You’ve probably heard of generative AI by now, thanks to ChatGPT. Within two months of its launch, ChatGPT reached 100 million users. Generative AI has the potential to permeate virtually every aspect of our existence, including retail. And, as we’ve recently seen in the news, it’s been used to create false product reviews.
Typically, fraudulent actors create false reviews and other types of fraudulent user-generated content (UGC) to increase the number of reviews for a product in an attempt to convince more people to purchase it. On the other hand, they can also be used to flood a competitor’s website with negative reviews in order to harm their sales.
Regardless of their intent, fake evaluations cause consumers to base their purchasing decisions on false information, which can result in product disappointment. AI-generated reviews may be appealing to brands and retailers for a short-term sales boost, but in the long run, they will erode consumer trust and retention.
UGC is not novel to AI.
AI has existed for a long time, assisting with mundane tasks such as checking grammar while composing a review. Moreover, while AI systems can be used to generate large quantities of false reviews, similar systems can also be used to detect them.
In fact, my company has utilized AI in its products for more than a decade. It currently powers a variety of items, including moderation capabilities. These machine learning systems are capable of being trained to recognize patterns that indicate a website contains false reviews. To detect these patterns, these systems comb through more data than a human could in several lifetimes. And once they are identified, they can be eliminated.
In the wrong hands, generative AI is potentially dangerous.
As useful as AI can be for detecting negative reviews, any instrument in the hands of unscrupulous individuals can be harmful. Unfortunately, this tool can facilitate the creation of large quantities of false UGC by malicious actors. If this is left unchecked, consumers will be unable to determine whether user-generated content is authentic, which could have significant implications for the future of online purchasing.
Maintaining consumer trust in UGC requires a principled approach to the use of AI tools and the continuous development of authentication processes. My company, for instance, has co-written several standards on authenticity and moderation with regulatory bodies, and we remain committed to aligning our approach with that of key international regulators.
Generative AI can also be advantageous for consumers.
Recent advances in generative AI can assist consumers in ways beyond detecting false UGC. Using this technology, brands can assist their customers in writing and creating more useful and valuable UGC by prompting them with suggestions and questions that will inspire them to create content about aspects of the product that they may not have otherwise considered.
For example, when writing a review about something as simple as mayonnaise, generative AI could prompt the consumer to include not only the flavor but also the texture, quality, packaging, and price. These helpful, impartial prompts are generated by AI models trained on vast quantities of authentic, accurate UGC data.
I believe that AI technology has the potential to enhance the consumer’s online experience and simplify the content creation process.
It’s crucial for companies and governing bodies to implement standards for generative AI.
As generative AI continues to transform and develop at a rapid rate, I believe there will be a greater focus on UGC in all of its forms, from reviews to social media posts, and eventually legislation concerning it. I support and encourage the enforcement of appropriate guidance, as it will safeguard both brands and their customers.
Take a responsible approach to the use of AI in UGC.
When incorporating AI into your UGC programs, there are three golden principles you must adhere to:
Authenticity is paramount. Never, ever use artificial intelligence to write consumer evaluations. It is essential that reviews originate from actual consumers who have had genuine, impartial experiences with the products.
Respect the privacy and security of your consumers and never share their personally identifiable information (PII) with AI service providers.
Recognize and account for your errors and blunders. Despite the fact that generative AI has been around for some time, we all continue to learn from our mistakes and must use those lessons to continuously progress.
Authentic, accurate UGC not only assists consumers in making well-informed purchasing decisions and spending their money as they see fit, but it also promotes brands selling products that customers desire and provides them with invaluable feedback on how to enhance their products. Responsible use and standards regarding UGC and generative AI can be beneficial for all parties involved.