This Man Thinks Online Reviews Should Be Verified. Here’s Why
Mark Bakken is a man on a mission. Early in his career he was one of the founding partners in what became the largest physician recruitment firm in the United States. Then there were other ventures in the radiology industry, imaging centers, and more. In 2007 came the sale of his company, then second largest teleradiology firm in the United State, the Radlinx Group. Finally, a few years “off the business grid” coaching his kid’s sports teams, volunteering in the community, and enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest.
But once again he discovered an inefficiency in the system, an uneven playing field on the Internet. In his words, “We have laws against libel and slander. And they work pretty well. But on the Internet, anything goes. An anonymous competitor, disgruntled ex customer or online troll can ‘type, type, enter’ and damage your reputation or your company. That’s got to stop.”
Bakken’s solution is a simple one at first glance. After creating his own platform of hundreds of news and review sites online (a company he calls Big Web Machine), he began to put power back in the hands of business owners by allowing them to “put their best foot forward” online.
Now he has gone further in partnering with TruWeb Verified, a national association at the forefront of “de-anonymizing” and legitimizing online reviews. “We have a saying around here,” Bakken says, “If it isn’t stamped, it isn’t real. By that we mean that if you read an online review and it isn’t verified, you can’t know if it actually came from a customer; someone who actually used the product or service.
Daniel Johnson of TruWeb Verified is all too happy to work with Bakken. “Look,” Johnson said, “Up to a third of online reviews in some categories are fake. Unfortunately, online review companies continue to make money off of business owners who are desperately trying to erase or minimize the impact of negative reviews. We aren’t setting out to attack or disrupt the spread of customer testimonials and we sure can’t stop word of mouth. But we will continue to make the point that an anonymous online review, like an anonymous letter to the editor, doesn’t carry the same weight as a verified review; a real, live experience put into words. That’s a case you will hear us making.”