Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Yelp Unveils Index Exposing Paid Fake Reviews, Urges FTC to Enact Ban
Yelp, the popular business review platform, has taken a firm stand against businesses that engage in deceptive practices to boost their online reputation. The company has created a new index that publicly names and shames businesses involved in paying for reviews.
The index serves as a comprehensive database, exposing businesses that offer incentives such as cash or gift cards in exchange for positive reviews. It also lists businesses suspected of engaging in suspicious activities, including spamming the site with multiple reviews from a single IP address.
Engadget, a reputable technology news publication, has dubbed Yelp’s index as a “wall of shame.” The publication also suggests that federal agencies could use this information to crack down on paid fake reviews and protect consumers from misleading information.
In line with this objective, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed a ban on deceptive reviews and testimonials. Under the proposed regulation, businesses caught buying, selling, or manipulating online reviews could face penalties of up to $50,000.
Yelp fully supports the FTC’s proposed ban and has reported a staggering 950 suspicious posts, users, or groups facilitating fake reviews in 2021 alone. The company hopes that by exposing businesses engaging in such practices, it will encourage other platforms to hold them accountable as well.
However, fake reviews are not limited to Yelp. Academic researchers have infiltrated incentivized review services for e-commerce giant Amazon and discovered 250 Facebook groups that facilitate paid reviews for Amazon products.
Taking a strong stance against the issue, Amazon has assisted in the arrest of two China-based review brokers who were recently sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for their involvement in facilitating fake reviews between March 2021 and March 2022.
Yelp and Amazon are both committed to cracking down on paid fake reviews and are working closely with law enforcement agencies to bring the culprits to justice. Yelp has previously collaborated with the FTC to report fake reviews, and Amazon vows to continue its collaboration with law enforcement authorities to ensure the integrity of customer reviews.
The prevalence of paid fake reviews poses a serious threat to consumers and businesses alike. As platforms like Yelp and Amazon take a strong stand against this deceptive practice, it is hoped that other platforms will follow suit, ultimately creating a fair and trustworthy online marketplace for all.