Yelp, the online review site, is publicly outing various businesses that it believes may be posting sham reviews on its platform. In September, Engadget published a story saying Yelp launched a new tool to help people track businesses “that have tried to manipulate their standing on the review platform.” Now, Eater has confirmed that Yelp recently published an index of businesses it found violating the company’s policy against paying for fake reviews, which the publication referred to as a "wall of shame."
The Compensated & Suspicious Review Activity Alerts page, a new part of Yelp’s Trust & Safety site, is where the “platform breaks down how Yelp deals with content moderation and shares its annual trust and safety report on combating incentivized reviews,” Eater reported. The page includes links to the business’ Yelp page alongside a “View the evidence here” link, which contains “photographic evidence of email solicitations, promotional ads, or screenshots of social media posts offering gifts or products in exchange for reviews.”
Businesses that are caught violating Yelp’s policies will be added to the Trust & Safety site and the consumer alert pop-up added to the business’ Yelp page that’s been in practice since 2012. Alerts are removed after 90 days “if the offending behavior stops,” per the guideline page.
In addition to Yelp, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on shady business reviews. The FTC proposed a ban against fake reviews, adding major fines against businesses that “buy, sell and manipulate online reviews” totaling up to $50,000 for each fake review — plus the number of times a customer sees it, Eater wrote.