Belkin has managed to find themselves in the middle of a public relations fiasco as they are being accused of hiring people to write fake ratings and reviews of their products on many online shopping websites. This comes shortly after posting on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site, which offers a thing called “artificial intelligence.”
This means that companies can pay small amounts of money to people in exchange for performing very repetitive tasks such as when Belkin’s Mike Bayard asking for people to write a positive five star review for their products. In exchange for 65 US cents (44p) people will write a review for the Belkin product as if they had owned it and give the best possible rating. None of these people own or use any of the products they are asked to rate.
This process of boosting the user popularity of a particular product is called “astroturfing.” While it is not a new way of gaining reputation, such a large company has never been so outright open about participating in such behavior. In defense of their actions, business development representative “Bayard” has “created dozens of jobs on the Mechanical Turk site.” Since the news of Belkin’s actions all of the job requests have been deleted for the Mechanical Turk website with no official statement from the company.