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Dissecting a winery’s Google troll attack via multiple anonymous accounts and fake “reviews”

This is article 2 in a series. Article #1 is: Google’s inability to deal with fake accounts and content makes reviews UNtrustworthy


Article #1 in this series looked at Google’s comfort level with fake reviewers and posts that are not actually reviews from people who had never visited a location or tried a product.

While Google removed the posting, below …

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… it left the account active despite the fact that the remaining “reviews” of other small businesses have all the hallmarks of also being fake — and frequently — vulgar “non-reviews.”

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What’s more, the search giant does not seem to have any sort of machine learning method for detecting troll posts or new fake accounts. (see article #1 )

Indeed, the following is a new fake account created sometime on June 5 after the first draft of this article was written, and after Goggle had removed other irrelevant rants lacking specifics.

John Davis – new anonymous account with no profile

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But in  the process, Google is complicit in the vulgar defamation of a small, family-owned winery and its co-owner who is an accomplished artist with major gallery exhibitions in New York and elsewhere. While one review (below) was taken down, three more which appear to be written by the same person, remain.

Winery Sues Google Over Bad “Review?”

This article, and the previous one in this series began with news of a lawsuit:

The first thought was “thin-skinned winery goes postal.”

However, the almost-identical headlines are profoundly inaccurate and failed to make the point that the issue is not about a review, but about multiple fake user accounts — probably by the same person given the similarities among the postings — who have never actually visited the winery.

This is especially significant in  a town where bad online reviews can be a live or die situation for a small family business: Bad Yelp reviews sink application for a downtown St. Helena store.

Charter Oak Winery: A quick profile of verifiably “real” people  and a real place

Yelp: 5 stars –  Charter Oak Winery

Google: 4.4 stars, brought down mainly by fake reviews –  Charter Oak Winery

Charter Oak Winery is a small family-owned winery that produces about 600-800 cases of wine per year. The wine is hand-made my the family and still uses some of the 100+-year-old apparatus passed down along with the family home and vineyard in St. Helena.

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Charter Oak Winery owners Layla and Rob Fannuci

Charter Oak Winery co-owner Layla is an artist who has her studio at the winery.

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Layla Fannuci at exhibition, speaking to visitors about one of her cityscapes.

Google’s anonymous fakesters

Significantly, none of the anonymous trolls leaving fake reviews have Google profiles. Also important is that word choices, sentence structure and other linguistic attributes are highly similar.

Reviews are never specific when related to the wine or the winery. None contain descriptions of the service, settings, or actual product. None contain the type of wine (Zinfandel?) or the surroundings. These are in stark contrast to other Google and Yelp reviews which contain descriptions and specifics.

“Justin Credible” –  No Google profile

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“Justin Credible’s” image logo is known as “Kalishnikitty” and originates from: Dravens Tales from the Crypt. which has a companion gun-oriented site, Glam Guns. (scroll down for screen shot.) In addition, both web sites  treat women in an adolescent-level demeaning objectification of women.demeaning

There’s no indication that the site owners (in Switzerland) are involved. However, “Justin Credible’s” use of a Kalashnikov automatic firearms as as icon indicates the review leaver may have kindred psychological issues.

Right-click images below to view larger and/or clearer text

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That http://www.glamguns.com/

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Bert Cox – No Profile

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No review
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Moe B B – No Google profile

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James K – no Google profile
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Joe Sams – no Google profile
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