Trolls attempt to manipulate ratings of books authored by Sagarika Ghose and Arundhati Roy

Sagarika Ghose’s new book, “Indira – India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister” had 50 reviews on July 3rd, 44 of which were negative one-star ratings. There is nothing unusual if a book attracts negative ratings but there is a small problem in this case – The book will only be available on Amazon from July 4th. An army of trolls has descended on Amazon India to leave a customer review for a book whose first copy is yet to be delivered by Amazon. Yes, we are witnessing another concerted troll attack on a book by liberal author who is seen as critical of the government.

Trolls headed to Amazon to rate the book as soon as the Sagarika Ghose tweeted about it.

Below is a screenshot of the Amazon customer reviews page on July 3rd, one day before Amazon starts delivering the book.

If we analyse these ratings further, we see that out of the 50 ratings, only one is a verified purchase on Amazon. In line with the pattern seen in the case of books by journalists seen as critical of the government, 49 out of these 50 reviews were made by those without a verified purchase made on Amazon. Of these 49 ratings, 44 are one-star, one is a two-star and four are five-star. Even the one verified purchase which rated the book as 5-star has done so before Amazon started the actual delivery.

While the book was available in the bookstores, as seen from the comments below, it seems unlikely that many of the reviewers had bothered to read it, let alone buy a copy.

“Worst book” –

“Pathetic”

“Don’t waste your money, better feed some poor”

“Can’t give zero rating and hence one-star”

“Book full of Crappy Imagination, Want my Money back with compensation for Mental Harassment”

“Don’t buy, it is horrible Congress propaganda”

Funnily, one reviewer wanted his money back even though he has not purchased the book on Amazon. The troll brigade is clearly not listening to the author’s appeal to wait for the book to be delivered before rating it.

There was a clear pattern in the negative reviews:

  • Many of reviewers had no other book review on Amazon. This is their sole book review and that too without purchasing the book from Amazon.
  • Many of those who have rated books in the past, have also given one-star ratings to books by other authors like Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt and Swati Chaturvedi
  • The rating is often accompanied by just one negative sentence and not a genuine critique of the book.
  • Many of the comments are directed at the author and her perceived political views rather than the book itself.

“The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” – yet another target for trolls

Not surprisingly, the same pattern can be seen in the ratings for Arundhati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”. Out 145 customer reviews, 59 represent verified purchases. The unverified ones accounted for most of the one-star ratings, pointing to a clear attempt to manipulate the ratings of the book. 54 out of the 55 one-star ratings come from those who have not made a verified purchase of the book from Amazon.

 

Trolls may be disappointed to know that their attempts to downrate the much awaited book of a Booker prize winner stand wasted. Amazon has provided a glorious review of Roy’s book which includes highly positive comments of international press.

The case of “NDTV Frauds” – Reversing the trend

Those who thought that the troll brigade only downrates books are in for a surprise. Reviews of a book by the name of “NDTV Frauds” by Sree Iyer shows the opposite. Scores of people have given the book a 5-star rating without making an actual purchase on Amazon.

Out of 174 reviews, only 37 are verified purchases from Amazon. A total of 137 people have rated the book without making a purchase, out of which 110 have given it a 5-star rating. The rating is accompanied by comments attacking NDTV and commending the author for “exposing” it.

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Such organised manipulation of ratings is nothing short of an attempt to sabotage. Liberal voices, seen as critical of the BJP government have always been targets of abuse on social media. It is not surprising that this abuse has spilled on to e-commerce platforms with a clear objective to downrate books and dissuade people from purchasing it. NDTV, Sagarika Ghose and Arundhati Roy are all favourite punching bags for trolls and what we have seen above is nothing short of a deliberate concerted attack. It is time Amazon India finds a way around this issue to protect authors from such organised mob attacks.

Read Part 1 of this story about how book ratings are being sabotaged in an organised fashion here.
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10 Comments on "Trolls attempt to manipulate ratings of books authored by Sagarika Ghose and Arundhati Roy"

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kk singh
Guest
Well exposed. But is that sufficient? See what is happening to CNN and Trump? Media, Social Media, education institutions are usurped totally by the ruling class, the big capitalists, financiers, arm dealers, oil & other corporations who control the government and all its pillars. There is massive investment by the state, which is working as an agent of the oligarchs. This is to penetrate in your personal life, like PRISM, NSA of CIA, exposed by Snowden and to mould your ideological base itself. You hate Socialism as you fear that your free thinking will be controlled by the state!!!!!!!!!!!! The… Read more »
Zafar Inamdar
Guest
what an eye opener article, ‘Trolls Attempt To Manipulate Book Reviews’. but just writing about the baddies and exposing ultra-nationalist anti-social types on social media may not be enough to alter the vitiated atmosphere. These issues must be mainstreamed to make an impact on the narrative, and here the media has a role to play. At a personal level I intend to buy and read, and hopefully also review, all these books referred in this article over the next two months that I will be spending in India. I must admit I did start to read Rana Ayyub’s book, ‘Gujarat… Read more »
Souptik
Guest
There’s another side as well. For The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, people who have read the book are marking it 5* to counter the bogus 1* ratings. On Amazon as well as Goodreads. Eg, I had marked Exit West 4*, and don’t think Utmost Happiness is too much better than it, I still marked it 5* on 6th June, as some#$*Les had started marking it down even before 6th June. The comments are pathetic on Goodreads. They don’t even mention having read the book. One even cites the “Can you handle the truth” line from A Few Good Men to… Read more »
Dsouza
Guest

Brilliant article. Congrats to Altnews again for another great article. You have millions of fans and well wishers all over the world. Keep up the good work Altnews. God Bless you.

Abhilash
Guest

Media has to back every resource. As citizens we hope we will spread your world. Long live media! You will enlighten.I believe.

Ananth
Guest

How do u explain the 5 star reviews? Troll army of rajdeep?

Jai Bharat
Guest

It is a reaction to the national trolling done by these authors. Even they don’t seek full facts and present biased one sided view which is often paid by opposition. The trolling shows that general public does not like these authors, and why not – these authors often bully the trolls online calling them paid and idiot. Authors should either mend their ways or leave the country for good.

mahesh
Guest

looks like news alt is clearly anti-bjp.
No difference between you guys and arnab.

vishal
Guest

how? he is exposing fake news only. to give rate a book without reading it is the fake rating only.

Pradip ranjan
Guest

You have done well to expose the real truth behind these fake reviewers. It is very disturbing to note that people are indulging such falsehoods just to di.scredit authors who do not toe the line of the ruling party

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