A New Webpage Shames Companies Caught Paying for Fake Reviews

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The reviews website Yelp has been at war with fake reviews since 2012. But now it’s escalating the conflict.

For more than a decade, the company has stuck warning labels on business pages it suspects are stacking the deck. Yelp says it’s put nearly 5,000 alerts out on such companies.

But until now, you were unlikely to ever hear about those dishonest companies unless you were already looking up their online reviews. Now, Yelp is putting all its findings on a new wall of shame in two categories: compensated reviews and suspicious reviews.

According to Yelp, a Compensated Activity Alert goes out “when we catch someone offering payment in the form of cash, discounts, gift certificates or other incentives in exchange for writing, changing, preventing or removing reviews.” In each case, Yelp shares the evidence supporting its case, which might be a customer-submitted photo or a screenshot of the company’s social media, for example.

Here’s how Yelp explains the other category, Suspicious Review Activity Alerts:

“Yelp places these alerts on business pages when our systems detect a large number of positive reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates incentivized reviews. While our recommendation software takes this type of suspicious activity into account when recommending reviews, we may also issue this Consumer Alert to warn people of egregious attempts to mislead them.”

The new page highlights dozens of the most recent alerts of each type, but the entire archive is available to dig through. Each alert is attached to a specific store or restaurant, so an entire chain doesn’t take the blame unless the company deserves it.

Unfortunately, fake reviews are increasingly prevalent across the entire internet. For tips on spotting them, check out “5 Sneaky Ways to Spot a Fake Review on Amazon.”

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