Goodreads has a problem with extortion scams and review bombing

Many authors will go to great lengths to minimize their negative reviews, and a slew of one-star careers can be a major detriment to a writer's career. Because of the influence of the book review site Goodreads (previously at Boing Boing), scammers threaten authors with negative reviews and demand ransom. Time Magazine reports:

Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has evolved into the world's largest online book community. The social networking site now has millions of users who rate and review books, find recommendations for new ones and track their reading. But over time, Goodreads has also become a hunting ground for scammers and trolls looking to con smaller authors, take down books with spammed ratings, cyberstalk users or worse.

Some people have called on Goodreads, which currently doesn't require email verification for accounts, to tighten its restrictions.

Although Goodreads' review bombing problem would be difficult to solve entirely, Tomlinson says that if the platform were to introduce some basic preventative measures used by its parent company Amazon, the problem could be "mostly" fixed.

"On Goodreads, you don't even need to verify your email address [when creating an account]. You can make a dozen fake accounts a day, and then go on and just completely bomb out the reviews and ratings of whatever book you want or whatever author you want," he says. "Even something as simple as requiring email verification would cut [this problem] down immensely."