BlackBerry Denies Writing Bogus BBM Reviews

Dennis Faas's picture

BlackBerry Messenger is now available on Android and iOS phones. So far it's getting some tremendous reviews -- but there's something fishy about a lot of those write-ups.

It's led some experts to suggest that someone has devised a campaign to flood technology websites with bogus reviews. At the moment it remains unclear who's behind the scam -- or if BlackBerry itself is involved.

The BlackBerry Messenger service, also known as BBM, was previously only available on BlackBerry handsets. It's a variation on text messaging that has become very popular because there's no charge to send a message.

BBM is also attractive because messages are directed through a PIN code identifying a particular handset. That means users can receive messages from new acquaintances without having to give out their phone number.

Ten Million Downloads In First Day

Until now, the service has been exclusive to BlackBerry phones. After several hiccups, BlackBerry finally released apps to send and receive messages on iPhones and Android handsets this past week and reported more than ten million downloads on launch day alone.

Android users download BBM from the Google Play store. At the time of writing, the app had nearly 200,000 reviews, 130,000 of which gave a full five-star rating. (Source:

Unfortunately, many of those reviews contain identical wording. Some contain the rather awkward message: "Thank you so much blackberry team. I was waiting this app. Its really great user friendly and smooth."

A second message that's appeared multiple times reads: "Nice and fun back Great !!! Can connect and use smoothly like my bb unit !!! Keep it up."

Bogus Reviews Clearly No Accident

Some messages even included text with instructions for cutting and pasting the wording -- text that the bogus reviewer presumably included in the review by mistake.

BlackBerry now stands accused of 'astroturfing', a term that comes from the idea of artificially creating or portraying "grass roots" support.

For its part, BlackBerry says it has no involvement in the bogus reviews, does not approve or condone of such trickery, and is working with Google to have the reviews removed. (Source:

That's led to the emergence of a conspiracy theory which suggests that opponents of the firm may be responsible for the fake reviews in an attempt to discredit it and muddy the genuinely positive responses.

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