Yelp reviews tainted by paid fake reviews
The value of Yelp is consumers reviewing products and locations they’ve experienced, leaving unbiased reviews. “I hated this restaurant” or “best dog groomer ever,” are the cornerstone of what Yelp users have relied on each other for in their quest to get peer and consumer reviews to make better informed consumer decisions. For a long time, businesses have sneakily paid for fake positive reviews, some of which they write and pay others a few dollars to post, others paying for original text.
Although Yelp’s algorithm is designed to keep legitimate reviews visible, some have claimed they suppress legitimate reviews. Needless to say, the company’s algorithm has been as questioned and controversial as businesses gaming the system.
Busting paid reviews, Yelp style
Yelp has now found a way to
bust paid reviews, sending in Yelp staffers undercover with “Elite” badges, and every one of the handful of companies they suspected of being “bad apples” took the bait and the companies are being flagged with a “consumer alert” badge which warns people viewing their listing that they were caught buying reviews:
Companies busted for buying reviews will be posted for a minimum of 90 days, and will remain posted if the businesses continue trying to game the system, in a move to protect consumers and the integrity of their offering.
Yelp said this is just their first step. “The next step will be to let consumers know if a business has had a large number of reviews submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, which can be a helpful indicator that they lack authenticity. While the review filter already takes this type of information into account, we believe that consumers also have a right to know if this activity is going on.”
It remains unseen as to how Yelp intends on dealing with real users extorting small businesses, which could include similar IP restrictions as mentioned above, disallowing that IP from posting reviews in the future.
Businesses increasingly rely on Yelp reviews for their success, so cleaning up the fake reviews is necessary for Yelp to remain relevant, therefore allowing businesses to continue connecting with consumers.