Mozilla acquires review screening and phishing detection service Fakespot for Firefox – Ars Technica

Zoom in / Fakespot adds letter rating, modified review score, and other context (“New Seller Alert”) to product pages across the web.

Amazon / Fakespot

Fakespot, a useful service that explains how products you’ve never heard of can get 12,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.6 stars, has been acquired by Firefox browser maker Mozilla, and Mozilla plans to integrate it into Firefox.

“We join a company developing one of the world’s most popular browsers in Firefox with a pedigree that traces back to the origins of the Internet,” Saud Khalifa, founder of Fakespot, wrote on the company’s website. “At Mozilla, we have found a partner who shares a similar mission for what the future of the Internet should look like, where the convergence of trust, privacy and security plays a fundamental role in our digital experiences.”

Mozilla acquired the Pocket (formerly Read It Later) article saver tool in February 2017 but has already integrated its extension directly into Firefox. Pocket was an essential part of what Mozilla calls a context graph, a kind of human-powered web discovery and understanding system. It’s easy to see Fakespot as part of that.

Mozilla also wants to expand its “work around ethical AI and responsible advertising,” according to Stephen Teixeira, chief product officer, in a blog post. Teixeira notes that people return fakes and counterfeits less often, so “the environment benefits from less packaging and shipping.” Fakespot in Firefox will work “over time,” the post claims.

After you install the Fakespot extension for Chrome, Firefox, iOS, or Android, it changes the composition of product pages on Amazon, eBay, Sephora, Shopify, and other e-commerce sites. Fakespot will run through product reviews and then the histories of those reviewers, using artificial intelligence to look for common patterns of paid, paid, or other fraudulent behavior (as Fakespot told Wirecutter’s Lauren Dragan in 2016). The reviews are then given a letter score and an average “corrected” score based on reviews that are not cited as fake. Fakespot’s FAQ section doesn’t get any more specific, stating only that it uses an “artificial intelligence trained to pick up patterns” and doesn’t reveal its methods for avoiding dodgy scams for its tools.

For an espresso distributor and first tamper producer (algorithmically) who got stuck, Fakespot gave the reviews a D and suggested that instead of the average 4.6 out of 5 cited in 337 reviews, it was more like an average of 2.5. The full report states that the Fakespot engine has seen “significant deception” via patterns of reviewers and that only 58.5 percent of reviews are reliable.

Fakespot will not lose Chrome, iOS or Android versions, and Mozilla claims it will “continue to improve the Fakespot experience” for all users. But there will be integrations unique to Firefox, making those users “better equipped to pass through scam reviews,” Mozilla’s Teixeira wrote.

Listing image by Fakespot

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