Vandalizing Review Mechanisms: Theory, Practice, and Applications
36 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 18, 2020
The term Market Vandalism Attack refers to large scale review manipulation, not for the benefit or detriment of individual sellers, but in order to damage the market itself. In this paper we present a theoretical framework for such attacks that allows us to provide reasonable estimates on the outcomes of vandalism attacks in the presence of countermeasures from the market operator, even when complete review-level data are not available. Based on our theoretical foundation, we estimate the cost of such attacks in four different markets (airline, beer, movies, and cocaine) assuming that in each case the best known generic review manipulation countermeasures are employed. We find that in all cases, an attacker who can afford to post between 10\% and 40\% as many reviews by injected (fake) profiles as there are by legitimate market participants can equalize all review scores, making it very difficult for the market to operate. We discuss an application of market vandalism in the context of Dark Net Markets (DNMs) and consider the potential for vandalism attacks to be used in conjunction with other methods in the policing of these markets by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).
Keywords: online product reviews, review manipulation, online crime
JEL Classification: D80, D82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation