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Yelp and NY AG go after fake review industry

We all know buying or selling phony reviews of a business is wrong. This week, 19 businesses in New York learned the hard way that it’s also illegal.


Photo courtesy of New York Attorney General

We think it’s great the New York Attorney General took action against these businesses that try to mislead consumers. In fact, we helped him.

Because Yelp uses sophisticated software to filter reviews and weed out less reliable ones, we identify — and take action against — concerted campaigns to game the system quite frequently. As a result, we were able to give the NY AG’s office some solid leads on which businesses to go after.

And we have more. We would love to work with law enforcement officials in other states to crack down on this unethical practice.

While we take many steps already to protect our users from fake reviews — from our review filter to our Consumer Alert program to filing lawsuits — having an attorney general take legal action against these spammers sends a public message: buying or selling reviews isn’t just wrong, it’s against the law. That can be a powerful deterrent.

But don’t worry, we’ll keep watching out for consumers behind the scenes, too. Just in case.