AI Learns to Write Convincing Fake Reviews on Yelp


Savvy netizens have learned to be a bit distrustful of online reviews. For one thing, fake reviews glowingly recommending a service or a product can be easily bought. On the other hand, there are those reviews that seem genuine enough but ultimately reflect the particular biases of the reviewer.

However, there is another type of review that modern consumers need to be wary of. Besides biased and sometimes untruthful people, technology has now spawned AI bots that churn out reviews like it was nothing. And the worst part is, according to researchers, you can’t tell the difference between fake reviews done by a robot against one written by a human.

Researchers from the University of Chicago have just trained an AI system to write convincing fake Yelp reviews, Engadget reported. The team harnessed a deep learning program called recurrent neural network (RNN), teaching bots to craft quality short written prose. While the team admits that the AI may mess up when writing longer articles, the usually short reviews on Yelp prove to be no challenge. In fact, the fake reviews churned out by the AI bot proved to be so convincing that they fooled the human test subjects who rated them.

For instance, the AI wrote the following fake review about a New York restaurant, which could easily pass for the real thing:

“My family and I are huge fans of this place. The staff is super nice and the food is great. The chicken is very good and the garlic sauce is perfect. Ice cream topped with fruit is delicious too. Highly recommended!”

And here is another AI manufactured review as reported in the NY Post:

“I love this place. I have been going here for years and it is a great place to hang out with friends and family. I love the food and service. I have never had a bad experience when I am there.”

Of course, Yelp assured The Verge that AI generated fake reviews will not become a problem for the rating site. While the bots did manage to create seemingly authentic reviews, Yelp’s own recommendation software claims to use signals other than mere textual content to recommend a particular review.

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[Featured Image via Yelp]


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