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Consumer Alerts: Preventing Misleading Reviews

Today Yelp is releasing 198 Consumer Alerts this quarter, notifying consumers of biased review practices that, if left unchecked, would result in misleading business ratings. These alerts are one of the ways Yelp informs the public of egregious attempts to influence ratings and reviews, for example by offering compensation in exchange for reviews or spamming business pages with positive reviews.

Yelp seeks to connect people with great local businesses, which is only possible if business ratings are based on honest reviews. Our priority is to empower and protect consumers by ensuring they have the most reliable information to make informed spending decisions. Our recommendation software is engineered to identify potentially biased or unreliable reviews, which it places in the “Not Recommended” section of a business page. Reviews that are not recommended are not factored into a business’s overall star rating. 

Our investigators also act on leads provided by users to identify potential bad actors because we believe consumers deserve to know when someone is trying to mislead them. For business owners interested in understanding more about our policies and recommended best practices, check out our list of Do’s and Dont’s.

This quarter, you might be interested to know that:

  • The Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute in Laguna Beach, CA had a large number of positive reviews coming from the same IP address, suggesting an attempt to inflate this business’s rating.
  • The Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center in San Antonio and Cedar Park, TX offered customers a reward program that sought 5-star Yelp reviews in exchange for points that could be applied towards discounted or free treatments.
  • A Yelp user reported that the owner of Amazing Lash Studio in San Diego, CA said they would only waive the user’s final payment if the user removed a critical review.

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. Maintaining consumer trust is our top priority. If you find some suspicious activity, please let us know.