Spot fake Amazon reviews with Fakespot

This handy tool can help you determine if all those gushing reviews are the real deal.

Suppose you're in the market for a set of over-the-ear headphones. A little poking around on Amazon and you land on the Modern Portable HiFi Elite Super 66.

On paper, it's a winner: pretty design, Bluetooth and corded connectivity, compelling price. And, hey, look at that: 5-star reviews almost across the board. Granted, there are just 18 of them (as of this writing), but they're all uniform in their praise. Gushing, in fact. That's good enough for you. Sold.

Except, hang on. Could a $66 set of headphones really compare favorably with $300 Beats? You know the old saying: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And it's not uncommon for companies to stack the Amazon deck in their favor by posting (or soliciting) fake reviews.

I'm not saying that's the case here, not at all. (Indeed, I got some ears-on time with the Super 66 headphones and found them quite good overall.) However, I do know how easy it can be to just glance at a four- or five-star rating and think, "OK, must be good!" I also know I don't have the time to go digging into each and every reviewer's history to see if they're legit.

Fakespot analyzes Amazon user reviews to help you to determine if they're legit.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Thankfully, there's Fakespot, a free site that analyzes Amazon product reviews to help you separate the wheat from the, well, fake. All you do is copy and paste the link to the product page, then click Analyze. (There's also a Chrome extension that makes it even simpler: Just click the Fakespot icon in your toolbar for instant analysis.)

In the case of the aforementioned headphones, Fakespot determined that 36 percent of the 18 reviews were of "low quality," meaning reviewers were determined to have written other reviews about the same company, written only overwhelmingly positive reviews, reviewed products without purchasing them or the like.

This is pretty compelling stuff, though as with the reviews themselves, it's always good to remember the grain of salt. I put Fakespot to work on the Solove Roco mobile charger, one of my favorite products in its class. It has a 4.3-star average from over 100 reviewers, yet Fakespot detected a whopping 75.4 percent low-quality reviews.

But I'm here to tell you: that's an awesome mobile charger. So although some of those reviews were solicited (a not-uncommon practice with many foreign-based vendors), that doesn't necessarily mean they're inaccurate.

Even so, I love the data Fakespot delivers, especially when it comes to newer products that have few reviews. This has definitely earned a spot on my bookmarks bar. Your thoughts?

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