Some days, I read the news and am amazed at how moronic tech writers can be. This industry of blogging is full of bait-clicking where writers will throw companies under the bus just to cause a bit of drama to drag in the viewers. More viewers equal more ad revenue and more clicks across the site. This is the main reason why I decided to leave my last gig and start my own blog because I couldn’t stand to be apart of the noise any longer. I was tired of being filtered for the sake of corporations, and hurting other’s feelings, and here’s an opportunity to debunk the noise. What matters to me most is putting out honest stories, reviews, and opinions. The readers are the most important part of the story.
Yesterday, an article from 9to5Google was posted about Huawei soliciting fake reviews of its Mate 10 Pro which is up for pre-order at Best Buy. The writer (Stephen Hall) goes on to make an assessment, that the image below asks for fake reviews about the P10 to drum up fake advertising in hopes of boosting sales.
This post from Huawei’s official Facebook page asks users to post why they want to own the Mate 10 Pro in the review section of the pre-sale page at Best Buy. Maybe I’m blind, but can anyone point out in this image where Huawei asked for fake reviews?
If anyone who is a tech writer is dumb enough to see this Facebook post as asking for fake reviews, then they should question their own existence as tech writers. We all know what reviews are in the tech writing world, but for those of us who don’t, like 9to5Google, Best Buy explained exactly what it wants in a review here. In short, a review comes with a rating, personal experiences, reasons why you like or dislike the phone, and why you gave the phone that rating. Best Buy also asks for the reviewers to leave their emails with their reviews and lets them know when it will be published or if it violated their terms.
It’s all pretty straightforward. Reasons for why users want a phone is quite different from reviewing the phone.
Is there a personal issue with 9to5Google and Huawei?
The writer from 9to5Google seems to have a personal beef with Huawei and there’s proof of it in his article.
Let’s start where Stephen claims all the reviews are fake:
The phone is only up for pre-order so far, and yet 108 people have left glowing “reviews” of the phone on its Best Buy listing. Almost all of the reviews are a solid 5-stars, saying it is the “unbeatable smart phone of the year,” a “great new flagship phone,” and even a device that “puts Samsung to shame.”
If you don’t look a little closer, you might think that the phone genuinely has lots of buzz and excited customers. It would certainly be easy to be misled by the small 5-star review that shows on the listing page and in search results, as well as the reassuring (108) number right next to it. Unfortunately, nothing here is what is seems.
As you can see from the original post, “nothing here is what is (clearly his typo) seems”. Then he states:
There were a few (likely real) 1-star reviews early on, but 105 of the 108 reviews currently showing on the Mate 10 Pro page not-so-coincidentally popped up after Huawei posted the contest on its Facebook page on January 31st.
There were a few (likely real) 1-star reviews early on. He doesn’t reference how he thinks those 1-star reviews were real. He’s just basing that on the other 103 posts showing up after Huawei started its beta tester giveaway. Nothing scientific, no contacting the sources of the reviews, just a plain old assumption that added fuel to this fire.
So if all of the reviews are fake, then why are the three 1-star reviews likely real? Something doesn’t add up here.
9to5Google was the first to break the story about Huawei soliciting fake reviews. Nowhere did Huawei ask for “fake reviews” in its Facebook post. It simply asked for fans on its Facebook page to post why they wanted to own a Mate 10 Pro. For clarity’s sake, if I was one of those customers I would say, ” I want to own the Mate 10 Pro because it seems like a great phone. It has an ultra-fast processor, a dual camera system with Leica as a partner, a huge display, and it runs Android.”
I wouldn’t take the time to write a fake review that claimed to have personal experiences to back the reasons why I dislike or like the phone in accordance with Best Buy review suggestions. That would be a lie. No one likes liars. Even if people were to see reviews on the phone when Best Buy clearly displays the Mate 10 Pro as a pre-order, I think most readers are smart enough to differentiate a real review from reasons why someone would want this phone.
It doesn’t really matter if Best Buy allows users to post reviews ahead of the phone’s release or not. It has control of what is posted to its website and can delete any “review” it deems unfit. Best Buy also has guidelines for reviews, not hard and fast rules like some websites are claiming. Just to be very clear on this issue, here are the guidelines, copied and pasted from Best Buy’s site.
When writing your review, please consider the following guidelines:
- Focus on the product and your individual experience using it
- Provide details about why you liked or disliked a product
- All submitted reviews are subject to the terms set forth in our Conditions of Use
We reserve the right not to post your review if it contains any of the following types of content or violates other guidelines:
- Obscenities, discriminatory language, or other language not suitable for a public forum
- Advertisements, “spam” content, or references to other products, offers, or websites
- Email addresses, URLs, phone numbers, physical addresses or other forms of contact information
- Critical or spiteful comments on other reviews posted on the page or their authors
In addition, if you wish to share feedback with us about product selection, pricing, ordering, delivery or other customer service issues, please do not submit this feedback through a product review. Instead, contact us directly.
In the same light that Huawei asked for fans to write why they wanted the Mate 10 Pro, those users, or any users of Best Buy’s site could post why they didn’t want the Mate 10 Pro too.
For clarity’s sake, Huawei did not violate any rules and Best Buy reserves the right to delete anything it deems unfit for its site.
Now back to the article:
“This isn’t all too surprising for Huawei, a company also known for extensive sponsor and promotional pushes among US influencers and media. I’ve personally noticed sketchy reviews of similar type on other retailers (like Amazon) for Huawei’s line of products, so my take is pretty simple: Don’t trust reviews of Huawei phones that you read at retail outlets. Sometimes shady tactics aren’t this obvious.”
Here’s the part that drives me absolutely crazy when it comes to irresponsible journalism. Stephen claims Huawei makes “extensive sponsor and promotional pushes among US influencers and media”. The first thing he gets wrong is he doesn’t make a single reference to back up his claim. The second thing, he singles out Huawei for something all tech manufacturers do which is influence people that have a following.
Every single company reaches out to influencers to talk about or review their products. It’s how this industry works. Android Central, Android Authority, The Verge, iJustine, Marques Brownlee – all of them get products for free. Even the podunk AndroidGuys site I used to write for, got tons of stuff for free. It doesn’t mean you can’t trust anyone who takes something for free, but Stephen is alluding that you shouldn’t trust people who get stuff for free.
But even 9to5Google gets tons of products for free.
So as the managing editor of 9to5Google to call out Huawei for trying to influence influencers, isn’t it hypocritical to call out Huawei only to take free products from other companies? It’s also a bit shady when you consider 9to5Google never discloses when it gets free products to review as it could influence its writer’s view on a product (read through its phone reviews and look for a disclaimer that shows it got the phone for free). To prove this claim, read 9to5Google’s review of the Mate 10 Pro and look for that disclaimer. This phone had to have been provided by Huawei because it’s not available to anyone yet (although I guess 9to5Google could have stolen it).
Do a Google search of “About us 9to5Google” and you won’t find a disclosure policy where it states whether it gets it products for free. You will get an affiliated site 9to5mac about us policy page which clearly states it receives free products, so it even further adds to the fire that 9to5Google is just a junk website that is adding to the fake news of society.
All of the major websites copying this story
If any writer with a little common sense read the Huawei post, there would be no reason to recapitulate the story. But the sad reality is there are too many amateurs who repeat the same damn thing causing the entire industry to look stupid.
That irresponsibility affects real people who work for and with Huawei. People will lose jobs over this. Huawei will lose sales over this. People will go home and tell their kids they have to tighten their belts and possibly move because one stupid writer wanted to make something out of nothing.
Go back and read the story for yourself and realize Huawei did nothing wrong. I would love to see Huawei’s lawyers make an example out of 9to5Google on this one. But the sad reality is they will probably move on as American’s have short memories and will move on to the next click bait story.
Just to be clear – I don’t work for Huawei nor has Huawei provided deTeched with any products for free.