It seems as if every day we find out about another way people use the internet in unethical ways. We hear lots about “trolling”, bullying, fake websites and attempts to steal people identifies.

In the news recently has been cases of organisations who pay people to write bogus favourable reviews of their product or service. By “bogus reviews” we mean that the people writing the reviews have not used the product or service and just say nice things about it. In effect unethical bogus reviews are unethical … it is another way of lying.

Two unethical acts

One unethical act is writing the bogus reviews. The reviewers are  are misleading others into believing that the product or service is better than it is. The reviewers are lying by implication because reader will assume they have tried the product or service. The other unethical act is by the companies selling the product or service: they are paying and encouraging people to lie.

A more sinister and even more unethical behaviour is involved when deliberately posting a negative review with the objective of harming the business. There are several cases where if someone disagrees with a view or a policy of another or an organisation, they write terrible reviews to convince people not to attend that restaurant or use that product. The intention is to wrongfully damage the business. Isn’t it time we made this unethical conduct a criminal offence?

Thankfully Amazon has taken steps to prevent this unethical activity when reviewing books. They post a note saying “Verified purchaser” next to any review.