Mike Blumenthal has a revealing post named How to Use Google Places New RSS Feed To Automate Your Review Spam Farm.
In his post he explains how the new reviews RSS feed in Places can be used to help automate the process of review spam in Google Maps. He detailed the process:
- Create one or more MyMaps that includes your clients business listings. To be really “sneaky” spread them out amongst 4 or 5 MyMaps. It appears that the algo is not yet capable of tracking this sort of pattern of abuse. Be sure to make the MyMap public or at least share it with your minions. This is a one time effort that while somewhat time consuming will allow future dissemination of all the businesses you are reviewing.
- Have your many Mechanical Turks each create several Google accounts each. Not too many as that is a signal that Google is catching.
- Capture the URL for the RSS Feed for your MyMap lists. (Okay this is a bit tricky not because it is hard but because of Google’s instructions. Those instructions refer to it as an RSS Feed but there is NO link in MyMaps called RSS. It is actually the link associated with the Google Earth KML download call “View in Google Earth”. You need to right click and copy the link.)
- Assign several MyMaps to each of your Turks, email it to them and suggest that they switch periodically between the MyMap business lists when rating. It adds a nice touch of reality.
- Goto to the Google Hotpot interface and instruct them to paste the URL into the search field. Some have suggested that you can add “?count=3000″ (or whatever number you’d like to display) to the end of the rss link to import more than the default load of 12 but I have yet to get that to work and it is easy enough to click on the load more button
You end up with a page of results that allow you to easily rate and review ratings.
How long will this last? Is it really effective in helping to spam Google Maps?
Forum discussion at Sphinn.