Yelp announced that it has activated a new round of consumer alerts, this time slapping 51 businesses with the alert messages.
While the alerts themselves show messages to consumers who stumble upon the Yelp pages of these businesses, the real message is to the business themselves, and that message is: "We don't tolerate review manipulation."
"Consumers have the right to know when someone is attempting to mislead them," said Yelp's Kayleigh Winslow. "For example, before heading in for LASIK eye surgery you would probably want to know that a very large number of five-star reviews for King LASIK came from the same IP address used to claim the business owner’s account. Likewise, you’d probably like a heads up that Luminere Esthetics & Wellness was caught offering $400 in exchange for removing a negative review of the business before stopping by for a waxing appointment (yikes)."
"On top of giving consumers a false perception of the place where they are about to spend their money and violating Yelp’s Terms of Service, writing a testimonial without revealing you've been compensated is also false advertising," she added.
The warnings stay up on Yelp business pages for 90 days with a link to the evidence Yelp found. The company says it has found hundreds of instances of people engaged in shady reviewing practices since it started the consumer alerts.
Yelp has a team of investigators who scour the site, message boards, and classified ads for suspicious activity, such as offers to pay for good reviews. They also investigate tips from outside parties. In fact, they actively encourage users who spot such activity to report it to the company.
The last round of consumer alerts was announced in January, when the company slapped 85 businesses with the warning messages. At least there was a substantially smaller number this time around.
Image via Yelp