William & Mary

Haitao Xu: A Digital Detective

HaitaoOnline ratings and reviews are a helpful, if imperfect, guide for potential customers. There are many ways to game these web-based rating systems. Most are relatively low level: A new author recruits friends to write favorable reviews for Amazon. A bed and breakfast offers free amenities in return for a nice blurb on Yelp or TripAdvisor.

A graduate student at William & Mary is examining digital review-spoofing on a much more ambitious level. In China, online markets have spawned entire underground communities dedicated to the generation of fictitious reviews. It’s known as "brushing".

The digital detective is Haitao Xu, a Ph.D. student in William & Mary’s Department of Computer Science. He is currently serving an internship in China with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. He is part of a group working to limit — and hopefully eradicate — the practice of “brushing” on Taobao, the eBay-like subsidiary of Alibaba.

Read full article at W&M Ideation page