Yelp is taking new steps to dissuade business owners from posting (or paying other people to write) favorable reviews on its site. Beginning today, when the company detects such questionable activity it will hit offending businesses with an alert that will remain visible to Yelp visitors for 90 days. Nine alerts have already been issued out of the gate — which strikes us as almost too small of a figure — though Yelp says it will post additional warnings as necessary. "We want to make sure consumers are making informed decisions," said the company in a blog post announcing the new measure. "As efforts to game the system continuously evolve, so do our methods for combating it."'
In addition to alerting users of paid-for reviews, Yelp soon plans to inform them when a business has received multiple write-ups from the same IP address — often another red flag for dishonest practices. These consumer alerts are a secondary defense against false content; Yelp's automated review filter remains the company's main tool in combatting paid and otherwise illegitimate reviews. Ultimately though, Yelp claims that these falsehoods are the rare exception to an otherwise vast majority of genuine content. And it's aiming to protect those businesses playing by the rules. "They inspire us to work even harder to protect the site from faux reviews, so that they have a fair opportunity to bask in the glow of their shining stars."