Corruption in Online Business Practices

The rise of the Internet has brought with it major opportunities for business online, but it has also brought new ways for people willing to bend and break rules and codes of ethics to unfairly succeed. The law has simply not yet caught up to some of the many problems. Herein are some examples of the types of corrupt behaviours that online business needs to face, with detailed and specific examples. Note that this is NOT a how-to guide.

False Reviewing

Amazon Logo

This is amazingly common. Basically, people either self-review products they have or other people with a vested interest review them. Of course, they do not disclose that they have a vested interest and pretend instead to be impartial critics. The idea being that positive reviews equates to more sales.

The first example of this is large companies reviewing their own products and using their economic weight to have that review at the top of the search engines. I have spotted quite a few organizations doing this, for example the Australian ISP Telstra reviewing its own broadband package.

The second example of this behaviour in action is reviews on products listed on Amazon. There are a few techniques for exploiting Amazon’s system that are used and should be understood by people who wish to purchase goods on Amazon. One way sellers exploit the system is by creating multiple accounts to review their own product, thus creating the image that many people have given it positive reviews. Another way is that sellers hire people, usually from overseas via sites like ODesk, to review their products. The final and less malignant way is that they get family and friends to review their product. All of these methods are designed to make the product seem more popular than it truly is.

Cheating Social Media

Pinterest Logo

This is similar to false reviews, but focuses on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter but has also begun to appear on Pinterest. Basically, sellers self-promote their products on these sites but pretend that they are not associated with the sale of said products. So, a company or individual might make many accounts and try to make sales via them. The funny thing is that they often choose young female identities, specifically on Pinterest. So that girl promoting her favourite clothing items may be a 40 year old man from Sri Lanka who was hired at $4/hour to promote a products with his many false social media identities.

False Identities

This is age old but exists on the Internet. Basically, people create sites that are fake versions of other sites. Of course there are very mean spirited versions of this in which someone creates a site meant to be a bank website or something similar and then harvests login details. However, the more general version is simply starting a store and pretending to be a competitor. There are two versions of this. The first is to create a domain name that is similar to a competitions, so instead of Amazon.com a site might be Amazon.net. The second version is waiting for a competitors domain name to expire, hoping they do not renew it, and buying it before they get the chance. A truly disgusting practice, but on occasion successful.

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