Yelp Hunting Down Paid Reviews

Website plans to alert users to companies buying reviews

By Nate Wooley, InvestorPlace Writer

In a world oversaturated with marketing, consumers can’t be blamed for turning a skeptical eye toward advertising. That’s partly why user reviews have become such a popular gauge in the online world.

But what happens when the user review is itself a form of stealth advertising?

Review website Yelp (NYSE:YELP) is trying to do something about companies that pay for good reviews. The company sent workers onto Craigslist to find companies that were willing to pay for positive reviews. Firms that took the bait now have their Yelp profile tagged with a note that the company was caught trying to purchase reviews.

To start, nine companies will have the message attached to their profile, and it will remain attached for 90 days.

In addition to the undercover work, Yelp is using automated systems that alert consumers to suspicious activity regarding a company’s reviews. Multiple reviews from the same Internet Protocol address will raise a flag.

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