We were in Rome (for work) and we wanted to go out to eat something nice. So we obviously opened TripAdvisor and google maps to look for reviews and to pick something that looked not too touristy. Tripadvisor places are usually a bit too touristy, but we found a few good ones. When we started looking for reviews on Google Maps we noticed that most of the places had just 1 (5 stars) review. Most of them even without any description, the others had a really obvious ad in it or a one-liner.
They were trying to hide it as a legit review, but doing such a poor job at it that anyone would understand it's not legit.
The astounding fact is that Google itself is either not aware of it, or if it is, is not doing anything at all to fight the spiteful practice.
I waited a year since our trip to write this post to check if in the meantime anything would have changed, but it did not. All of the reviews are still up on Google Maps, nothing changed at all.
If it is so widespread in Italy I can't believe the same is not happening anywhere else.