Goodreads Ransom Scam And The Platform’s Astonishing Indifference
A number of authors are being attacked by scammers who first post multiple fake 1-star reviews and ratings on Goodreads and then demand ransom to take them down.
If you are not a book geek, you might not be familiar with Goodreads. They are ‘the largest site for readers and book recommendations’ as they claim on Twitter. They are, essentially, a social network built around books. People track their reading, write reviews, discuss books, etc.
A lot of folks have criticized Goodreads because the website is obsolete and unituitive and hasn’t been improved in years. It was also bought by Amazon several years ago, which is viewed by many as a conflict of interest. All of it is true, but despite that, it still has millions of users who create all the value the website provides. It has a vibrant community of book geeks, a wealth of reviews that have been gathered for over 10 years (!) and book lists for every taste and whim. I’ve found some amazing books there just asking people for recommendations, connected with other authors and had a lot of fun discussing books. Until…
I stumbled upon a thread that was initially about something else, but quickly turned into several authors complaining about falling victim to the same scam. Dozens of 1-star ratings and reviews appeared under their books at the same time. They were all one-liners from private accounts without photos and said things like ‘Full Misogyny’ (always capitalized and this exact wording :D), racism, sexism, religious bigotry, etc. A few days later, someone contacted the authors saying they noticed they had a lot of bad reviews and offered to fix that for a fee and provide good ratings.
No need to be a detective to see a criminal pattern here.
It got even more interesting when within the next day everyone on the thread was attacked by the same scammers, including me. It was the first time for some of us, while others just got hit again.