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Gadget Company Engages in Pay-for-Praise Online
"Amazon.com runs a side business called Mechanical Turk ... where people can go, register, and get paid to do little tasks that computers can't do," explained blogger and film student Arlen Parsa. While on the site, Parsa saw a request to review Belkin International's consumer electronics products. The instructions were to "give a 100% rating (as high as possible)," "write as if you own the product and are using it," and to mark any negative reviews as "not helpful." The request was posted by Belkin's business development representative, Mike Bayard, who offered 65 cents for each positive review. Parsa noted that the product Bayard was paying people to praise "has consistently gotten bad reviews" from real users. "Bayard has also been paying people to post fake reviews on Buy.com and Newegg," and posting positive reviews himself, under different names, along with another Belkin employee. Belkin responded by saying it "does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this."