BUSTED -- New York Cracks Down on 19 Companies for Posting Fake Online Reviews
Bad service is one thing but writing a fake review online, now that will cost you. On Monday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced it had snared and fined 19 companies for writing fake reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch.
In the most comprehensive crackdown to date on deceptive reviews on the internet, the Attorney General’s office set up a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn, New York, and sought help from firms that specialize in boosting online search results to combat negative reviews.
Through the course of its undercover investigation (Operation Clean Turf), they found that companies used IP spoofing techniques to flood the Internet with fake consumer reviews, otherwise known as “astroturfing.” The companies that posted the reviews solicited freelance writers, some of whom were in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Eastern Europe, to write the reviews and then hid their identities by creating fake online profiles.
“This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution,” said Schneiderman. “And companies that continue to engage in these practices should take note: Astroturfing is the 21st century’s version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it,” he warned.
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Astroturfing – yes, there’s a name for it – is the practice of preparing or disseminating a false or deceptive review. In recent years, the creation of fake reviews has become wildly popular with many SEO firms conducting the “blackhat” practice for clients in industries from local pizza shops to well-known corporations. This tactic is used to increase the reputation of a brand as well as increase sales.
Schneiderman said the 19 firms collectively agreed to pay more than $350,000 in fines and stop posting fake reviews for violating New York laws against false advertising and deceptive business practices. The 19 companies busted include Zamdel Inc.; XVIO Inc.; Laser Cosmetica; U.S. Coachways Inc.; and Swam Media Group.
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”