In a recent report, The Verge detailed various incidents where podcast listeners used the rating and comments system within Apple Podcasts to register protests. In one instance, a podcast host accuses a fellow podcaster of orchestrating a coordinated one-star-rating-attack against him. As the only major platform that allows public reviews and comments, Apple’s Podcast app is to blame for allowing others to game the system.
Justin Drown’s true-crime podcast, Obscura, had a decent rating and Apple Podcasts and everything was looking bright and shiny. In July 2019, Justin was profiled by Tampa Bay Times. In the article, Justin made a mention of his criticism of another true-crime podcast host Mike Boudet.
Within days, Justin started seeing many one-star ratings on his Apple Podcast page, bringing his overall rating down from five to three and a half. This was indeed coordinated sabotage. Justin believes that Boudet whom he criticized in the Tampa Bay Times article hired an automated service to post low ratings for Obscura, Justin’s podcast.
In another instance, Jade Tolbert who used to co-host a podcast named Bachelor saw angry fans pouring in with one-star reviews on a new podcast she launched. Jade, fans believe, kicked her co-host from the new podcast, Mommies Tell All before it was launched. She says that this was a misunderstanding. However, Jade is still going through a very difficult time because of all the “nasty” comments that people leaving on the Apple Podcast listing for Mommies Tell All.
Most platforms do not give an option to rate podcasts. Apple is an exception here, along with a handful of others like Castbox. However, Apple has about 52% market share and reviews on the platform could make or break podcasts’ online reputation. Apple and other podcast platforms will have to figure out a solution to stop coordinated attacks like these.
Do you think Apple will be able to police reviews on Podcasts and make it better for both podcasters and listeners?