Firefox is getting an AI-powered fake review detector for your shopping needs

Thanks to a new Firefox feature, you'll soon be able to trust online reviews a little more. Here's how it works.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Firefox logo on phone and laptop
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If you've ever browsed reviews for an online product, you've no doubt wondered if you could trust certain ones. Firefox is hoping to give you a little more certainty when you shop, thanks to a built-in review checker.

Back in May, Mozilla acquired Fakespot, a company that specializes in detecting fraudulent online reviews. The Fakespot browser extension presently works on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, assigning each product a grade from A to F. 

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An A grade means all reviews were reliable, while a B grade means most are. C means there's a good mix of both, and D and F mean the reviews are overall not reliable. 

It's worth noting that a low grade doesn't necessarily mean a product or service is bad, just that the reviews aren't to be trusted. Fakespot doesn't point out specific reviews that it believes are fake -- it just assigns the product overall a score. The lower the grade, the more likely the reviews aren't authentic.

Screenshot by Artie Beaty/ZDNET

And now that functionality is being built into Firefox. The new feature is currently in testing and should be widely available by November the company says. Initially, it will work on Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, with more sites rolling out over time. 

How does Fakespot work? It's all thanks to AI, the company says. A number of data points are used, and multiple tests are run to determine the authenticity of a review. Fakespot doesn't actually divulge specific information about its algorithms to prevent users from review manipulation, but it all depends on whether or not a review is left by an actual customer.

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This is a crucial thing for online shoppers, as Google itself analyzes reviews when recommending a product, pushing what it deems to be better products to the top of search for certain keywords. Naturally, that often leads to manipulation as companies fight for more eyeballs. 

Is this really an issue? Absolutely, says Mozilla. According to recent research, over 80% of shoppers have seen a fake review online. If you limit it to just 18 to 34-year-olds, that number shoots to 92%. 

Right now, you can download the Fakespot browser extension and get the same functionality. But Fakespot will be a part of Firefox 120 for Android and desktop automatically, making it a little easier to access.

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