Key findings from Yelp’s Trust & Safety Report 2021
- More than 19.6 million reviews were contributed to Yelp in 2021. About 71% were recommended by our automated recommendation software, 22% were not recommended, and 6% were removed for violating Yelp’s policies or by reviewers themselves.
- 15,500+ reviews were removed by Yelp for violating our COVID-19 content guidelines, protecting businesses from unfair reviews related to the pandemic.
- 1,850+ Consumer Alerts were placed on Yelp business pages to warn people of extreme attempts to manipulate ratings and reviews. 420+ Unusual Activity Alerts or Public Attention Alerts were placed due to a Yelp page receiving an influx of activity for either being accused of, or the target of, racist or discriminatory behavior, resulting in the removal of 29,300+ reviews.
- 77% of civil legal demands Yelp received for personal user account information from private parties were successfully resisted, protecting approximately 98% of user accounts at issue.
Today, Yelp is releasing our 2021 Trust & Safety Report, which provides key insights on how we mitigated misinformation and maintained the quality and integrity of our platform’s content through our automated recommendation software, content moderation, Consumer Alerts program and more. Yelp’s mission is to connect consumers with great local businesses by giving them access to reliable and useful information. Consumer trust is our top priority, which is why we take significant measures, through investments in both technology and human moderation, to provide helpful and reliable information, and level the playing field for all businesses.
For nearly two years now, we’ve implemented many new processes in response to the pandemic, and social and political discourse. In 2021, we saw a rise in people taking to Yelp to express their views on everything from the violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, and vaccine and mask mandates, to racism and discrimination, like the increase in violence against the Asian American community.
When a business gains public attention through news coverage or social media, it often receives an influx of reviews that are driven by the news events rather than on first-hand consumer experiences — this behavior violates our content policies and may lead to Yelp placing a Consumer Alert on the business’s Yelp page. These “review bombing” incidents are investigated by our User Operations team, who in 2021 alone, removed more than 70,200 reviews from nearly 1,300 business pages on Yelp. More specifically, we placed over 420 Unusual Activity Alerts or Public Attention Alerts on Yelp pages to inform consumers when a business has seen an influx of activity for either being accused of, or the target of, racist or discriminatory behavior. This resulted in the removal of more than 29,300 reviews.
In 2021, we saw a rise in reviews that violated our COVID-19 content guidelines, which we implemented in March 2020 to better protect businesses from reputational harm due to pandemic-related circumstances beyond their control. Comparing only April through December, there was a 161% year-over-year increase in reviews removed (15,500+ total) for violating these guidelines. In August 2021, we introduced new searchable attributes to help businesses communicate if they require proof of vaccination or if their staff is fully vaccinated. As of December 31, 2021, more than 103,500 business pages have added at least one of the attributes to their Yelp page, and we proactively removed 150 reviews from these Yelp pages last year for criticizing the business’s vaccine policies.
The report also provides insights on our efforts to push back on legal demands for consumers’ personal information. Consumers are well within their First Amendment rights to express their opinions and relate their true experiences online, but legal demands are often used as a scare tactic to silence consumers or pressure them to remove their reviews. We take steps to protect consumers’ freedom of speech by objecting to baseless or overreaching legal demands for personal user account information. In fact, in 2021, we successfully resisted about 77% of civil legal demands for personal user account information from private parties, protecting approximately 98% of user accounts at issue.
Millions of people come to Yelp every day because they trust that the reviews and ratings are generally good predictors of their own experiences with local businesses. This is why we’ve spent more than a decade developing technology and policies to surface and cultivate useful and reliable content on our platform. Learn more at trust.yelp.com.