A Lie Never Lives to be Old: The Effects of Fake Social Information on Consumer Decision-Making in Crowdfunding

Michael Wessel, Ferdinand Thies, Alexander Benlian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The growing success of social media led to a strong presence of social information such as customer product reviews and product ratings in electronic markets. While this information helps consumers to better assess the quality of goods before purchase, its impact on consumer decision-making also incentivizes sellers to game the system by creating fake data in favor of specific goods in order to deliberately mislead consumers. As a consequence, consumers could make suboptimal choices or could choose to disregard social information altogether. In this exploratory study, we assess the effects non-genuine social information has on the consumer’s decision-making in the context of reward-based crowdfunding. Specifically, we capture unnatural peaks in the number of Facebook Likes that a specific crowdfunding campaign receives on the platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and observe subsequent campaign performance. Our results show that fake Facebook Likes have a very short-term positive effect on the number of backers participating in the respective crowdfunding campaign. However, this peak in participation is then followed by a period in which participation is lower than prior to the existence of the non-genuine social information. We further discuss circumstances that foster this artificial manipulation of quality signals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECIS 2015 Proceedings
EditorsJörg Becker, Jan vom Brocke, Marco De Marco
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2015
Article number201
ISBN (Electronic)9783000502842
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 23rd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2015 - Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany
Duration: 26 May 201529 May 2015
Conference number: 23


ConferenceThe 23rd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) 2015
LocationWestfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems


  • Fake social information
  • Perceived quality
  • Signaling
  • Crowdfunding
  • Facebook likes

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