AI-Generated Reviews are Spam, According to Google

AI-Generated Reviews

Google recently published a new policy clearly stating that AI-generated reviews are strictly prohibited and classified as spam. According to the policy, if you come across any content of this nature, Google insists that you promptly identify it as spam in your feed by using the ‘is_spam’ attribute.

What should you do if you post fake AI-generated reviews on your Google Merchant Store?

This update, shared by Google, explicitly addresses the issue of “Automated Content.” According to the update, reviews primarily generated by an automated program or artificial intelligence application are not allowed and should be marked as spam in your feed using the ‘is_spam’ attribute.

Determining whether AI produces user-generated reviews poses its own challenges. Nevertheless, if you happen to use AI to create your own reviews and are using Google Merchant Center, it becomes imperative to label them as spam.

Previously, Google Search has been relatively lenient regarding content generated with AI. Google has been accepting AI-generated content as long as it proves helpful. However, this new policy somewhat contradicts that approach since it specifically targets reviews. Google seemingly expects human input for reviews, not robotic contributions.

Other Policy Clarifications You Should Know

Google has further clarified its policies regarding reviews. Here are the specific clarifications:

  • *Spam: Google takes an aggressive stance against spam content. Therefore, it is crucial that any posts containing irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text be identified and marked using the is_spam attribute of your feed as spam.
  • *Dangerous Acts or Products: Reviews of products which could potentially cause harm, such as drugs, tobacco products or guns are not permitted for review on websites. Likewise, website owners must avoid content depicting or instructing dangerous and/or widely illegal activities that would violate laws in their region.
  • Urls, Email Addresses or Phone Numbers: It is unacceptable for review content to include phone numbers, emails addresses or links to other websites as part of its review material.
  • Confidential and Personal Data: Reviews should not contain any personally identifying information such as full names, credit card details, national insurance numbers or driving license information.
  • *Keeping it Clean: Reviews should avoid offensive language, violence-themed content or personal attacks that violate personal dignity, as well as defamatory statements that could damage their credibility or make others uncomfortable. Keeping language respectful is of utmost importance in maintaining positive relations among readers.
  • Conflict of Interest: Reviews should be genuine and impartial, without paid reviews or inauthentic customer testimonials being submitted for submission. Only reviews obtained honestly from customers who made purchases should be submitted as reviews.
  • Reviews that link or contain illegal content such as those selling prescription medications without a valid doctor’s prescription, counterfeit goods sold without proper verification from manufacturers, illegal substances or weapons are strictly forbidden.
  • *Phishing & Malware: Reviews must not link to malware, viruses or harmful software that could disrupt Google’s networks and servers in any way. Phishing activities that interfere with their operation are strictly prohibited as well.
  • Copyrighted Content: Reviews must not infringe upon another’s rights, such as copyright. Google follows Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) procedures when handling complaints of this nature.
  • Infringing Trademarks: Reviews must not use trademarks in a way that may lead to confusion about the source of reviewed product(s).
  • Plagiarism: Reviews should not contain content which has been copied or plagiarized from another individual or entity without due consent or is copied directly.
  • Sexually Explicit Material: Reviews should never contain sexually explicit material that exploits children in any way, which is strictly forbidden and reported to appropriate authorities immediately.
  • Hatful Speech: Reviews must not promote hatred against specific groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender identity or sexual orientation. Content intended to provoke violence or extremist behaviors will not be accepted.
  • Cross-promoting other websites/products: Reviews should not include promotional content for unrelated services, products, or websites – such content should be marked as spam in your feed.
  • Off-topic reviews: Reviews should primarily center around the product itself. Reviews that diverge into irrelevant areas such as shipping experiences, political or social controversies, personal attacks on others or anything not directly relevant to its firsthand experience may be removed or edited out altogether.
  • Impersonating other People: Reviews by individuals claiming to be someone they’re not are not allowed.
  • Languages: Reviews should be submitted in their original language for Google to display in its Shopping page as is with an option to translate to user’s own language if needed.
  • Duplicate Content: Every review should only appear once in each feed and only apply to one product variation so as not to block or remove those reviews or feeds from circulation altogether. When possible, separate product identifiers and URLs should accompany every review, in case duplicate reviews appear in multiple feeds which could potentially result in their blocking or removal from circulation altogether.

Final Thoughts

Google employs a comprehensive evaluation process to determine AI-generated reviews. Through content analysis and identifying patterns indicative of automated creation, Google uses algorithms and machine learning techniques to detect suspicious or spam-like behavior, which could include repetitive language, generic statements, or unnatural language patterns.

Furthermore, Google doesn’t solely rely on automated methods; it also engages specially trained human experts to assess the source and credibility of reviews, actively seeking indications of automation or the use of artificial intelligence software in their generation.

By implementing these rigorous evaluation methods, Google aims to ensure the authenticity and reliability of reviews, providing users with precise information to facilitate well-informed decisions.

Google could impose various sanctions against websites found to use AI-generated reviews, including:

  • Disapproving content or reviews that violate Google guidelines;
  • Issuing warnings;
  • Suspending accounts for repeated or severe offenses;
  • And even lower search rankings or remove the website entirely from search results.

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