Opinion A recent newspaper investigation uncovered evidence that companies are paying agencies to create false online reviews for their services. But what those companies may not realise is that this is illegal and could ruin their businesses.
The practice is called astroturfing, because it fakes grass-roots support, and it is not only ethically questionable, it is illegal. And if the law doesn't damage the business of those who engage in it, the verdict of the public will.
The laws surrounding the practice are yet to be fully tested, and business owners might think they can get away with some of the activity uncovered by The Times's investigation. But business owners must realise that, law or no law, faking support could cost them their most valuable asset: their reputation.