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Consumer Alerts: Spotting Shady Review Practices

Starting today, you’ll notice a new batch of Consumer Alerts, which will appear on 228 business pages. These alerts are Yelp’s warning to consumers that someone is attempting to mislead them through review manipulation like paying for fake 5-star reviews or spamming their own pages with positive reviews.

Yelp exists to empower and protect consumers, and we take a particularly aggressive stand against attempts to game our review platform. Our recommendation software is engineered to identify potentially biased or unhelpful reviews, which it places in the “Not Recommended” section of a business page where they are not factored into a business’s overall star rating. Separately, our investigators also act on leads provided by users to identify potential Consumer Alert recipients. For business owners looking to understand our recommended best practices and what violates our content guidelines, check out our list of Do’s and Dont’s.

This quarter, you might be interested to know that:

  • Somebody on behalf of Shining Stars Academy in Charlotte, NC encouraged parents to leave a positive review for a chance to win a $50 credit towards their child’s tuition.
  • We caught someone offering $30 in exchange for positive reviews for Vafaie Dermatology in Los Angeles, CA.
  • We found an unusual number of positive reviews stemming from the same IP address for Animal Kingdom in Tempe, AZ, which is a common tactic used to inflate a business’s rating.

Consumer Alerts are removed from affected Yelp business pages after 90 days if the offending behavior stops. Our team of investigators is constantly on the lookout to protect the integrity of information on Yelp, including through tips from the community. If you find some suspicious activity, please let us know.