Think about the last time you bought a product or service online. Chances are, you likely looked up reviews before you went ahead with that purchase. Anyone selling anything on the internet is already aware that people will first turn to reviews. Rather than coming by outstanding reviews honestly, a shady black market of fake and paid reviews emerged, making it harder to distinguish the honest opinion of real customers from the paid opinion of ethically ambiguous shills.
VPNs have an important job to do and that job requires consumer trust. They’re responsible for helping to uphold your privacy and anonymity to anyone who may be attempting to eavesdrop on your activity. In some countries with strict censorship, a subpar VPN can lead to the arrest of its users who just wanted to read the news or contact their family overseas. It’s important to learn the difference between real and fake VPN reviews. If you can’t tell which end is up, your safety can be seriously jeopardized.
Beware the App Store
The Google Play Store and iOS App Store are both highly competitive. The way that both stores display and rank apps relies heavily on the ratings of said apps. Newer apps don’t have much of a chance of organic exposure. They need to rely on costly advertising via outside sources to encourage people to try and review their app. Not everyone has the time or the patience to play the game honestly.
Many app companies, including some VPN app companies, have taken to purchasing reviews in hopes that the artificially inflated positive response will improve their standings in the App and Play stores. This practice is technically against the terms of service put forth by both Google and Apple, but with new apps emerging every second, the relevant authorities cannot always detect and remove apps that utilize these deceptive practices.
On the other side of that same coin, some app companies will also pay users to negatively review their competitors. These one star reviews can skew the appearance of legitimately high performing apps by giving the false impression that users who have never actually utilized the app have had a negative experience with it.
Until either avenue develops a surefire way to cut these deceptive practices off at the pass, it is the responsibility of the consumer to make an educated decision regarding the legitimacy of the reviews they see on a VPN app before they make the decision to download it.
Spotting Fake Reviews
It isn’t always easy to spot fake reviews, as many people will quickly rate something and leave a short blurb because they’re annoyed by that little pop-up. “Did you enjoy our app? Will you take a moment to rate us?” These people will usually slap 5 stars on something and leave a comment like “Great app.” These reviews are neither detailed nor helpful, but they still may be legitimate.
It’s safe to assume that lengthy reviews, especially if they rate something between two and four stars, are from legitimate reviewers. It’s five star and one star reviews that will always require further scrutiny, as the people who pay for reviews will typically do so to one extreme or the other.
Most fake app reviewers are people from countries where English is not primarily spoken or widely understood. Because of this, they will often copy and paste examples sent to them by the people who hired them to leave fake reviews. This leads to very short reviews that all say nearly the exact same thing, and they typically won’t contain any details that directly relate to the app or what it does.
Misleading Google Ads
Google allows companies to purchase ads, but these ads can at times appear deceptive to the consumer. They look exactly like search results, and they sit at the top of the list. If you aren’t looking closely, you might miss the teeny tiny little square that says “ad” right next to the URL of the page. Since most people click on the first result out of convenience, it’s easy to believe that you’re viewing something that genuinely earned its way to the top of the list, rather than something that paid to place there.
When Google searching VPN reviews, you might accidentally stumble upon a subpar competitor’s landing page designed to convert you to a buyer. This happens with TorGuard competitors on a consistent basis. A search for TorGuard VPN reviews might lead you to a deceptive ad that suggests you’re about to view a comparison of TorGuard to something else, when in fact you’ll instead stumble upon another VPN provider’s website that entirely fails to mention TorGuard.
These websites have nothing to do with TorGuard. They’re the property of companies that aggressively outspend other companies and use misleading tactics to purchase a reputation, rather than earn one by providing an excellent VPN service with superior support. Always look for the little “ad” box before you visit one of the top Google search results. It’s the only way to be sure that what you’re seeing is honest.
Due Diligence is Important
With all these deceptive practices at play, where can people go to find honest reviews? It seems like bloggers should be reliable, but don’t be too quick to assume that you aren’t reading a sponsored posts. Bloggers are often treated like influencers. Popular bloggers are paid to promote a product or service, and the disclosure only exists in the fine print you probably would never think to read. Unless a blog post specifies that the opinions are of the blogger and that they weren’t paid in money, products, or services to create the post, the unfortunate reality of the matter is that the review you’re reading has somehow been influenced by personal gain.
Websites like Reddit, TrustPilot, and Twitter are often your best bet. These websites feature niche communities where people turn to each other for honest advice and opinions. Often, the people who make themselves a part of these communities are the most knowledgeable. It’s a safer bet to trust a bunch of tech nerds having a casual conversation about something in an informal environment than it is to trust a competitive review market where paid opinions can sway the truth.
The TorGuard Way
TorGuard VPN does not pay for placement, nor do we bribe bloggers or incentivize reviewers to act deceptively on our behalf or rank us higher than others. We do have VPN affiliates, but we utilize a much more straightforward flat revenue share model to keep things fair for all affiliates. Try TorGuard for yourself and write a completely honest review of your own volition – we’re never going to tell you what to say.