October 22, 2012

Yelp’s answer to fake reviews: a badge of shame

For obvious reasons, the scourge of fake reviews is a threat to popular reviews sites. So one of the most prominent online reviews sites, Yelp, is fighting back, by shaming businesses that purchase fake reviews.

Naturally, the businesses caught in Yelp's honey pot will probably be embarrassed by the badge of shame that now graces their Yelp profiles. But will it work?

Yelp's sting operation may give other businesses considering paying for reviews pause, but it's highly unlikely the company can scale these sting operations significantly. So business owners committed to faking it until they make it will probably assume, perhaps correctly, that the odds they'll be caught and punished are fairly low.

Other services have applied technology-based solutions to the challenge of weeding out fake reviews, but this opens the door to false positives. And without humans at the helm engaging in a law enforcement-like operation, sneaky business owners could theoretically try to frame their competitors. That, for obvious reasons, could create even bigger headaches.

Get the full story at Econsultancy and The New York Times