Yelp is cracking down on fake reviews
The reviews site publicly shamed a burger franchise
If you try to look at a Yelp review for any location of the burger chain Burgerim right now, you’ll probably be surprised with what comes up on the page.
Instead of being able to read all the reviews, you’ll see a warning.
It reads: “Consumer alert! We caught someone offering up cash, discounts, gift certificates or other incentives in exchange for reviews about this business. We wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules.”
Yelp has slapped the warning across all its pages for the 200-plus locations of Burgerim.
The reviews company even has cold hard proof that Burgerim has been offering free meals in exchange for reviews.
It’s a letter (which you can read in full here) that the burger restaurant has been sending out to would-be influencers. They offer a complimentary combo meal in exchange for a five-star Yelp review with photos.
Yelp has been cracking down on paid reviews since 2012. Back in 2016, A CBS News report revealed how Yelp was fighting against fraudulent reviews by "[creating] decoy businesses to catch fraudsters in the act."
Yelp recently sent out similar warnings of “Suspicious Review Activity” when businesses had many reviews made via the same IP address.
An estimated 100 million users view Yelp on desktop every month, and the company is trying to position itself as a consumer watchdog of sorts.
“[Yelp] needs to find ways to get consumer traffic,” Yelp’s VP of communications Vince Sollitto told Eater. “To earn it, we do everything we can, because we’ve always prioritized trust.”