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February 28, 2014

Yelp Consumer Alerts: We Weren’t Fooled, but Thought You Should Know

As a consumer, would you want to know if someone was trying to mislead you? We know we would. This is exactly why we introduced our Consumer Alerts program back in 2012: to warn people when we see brazen attempts to manipulate ratings and reviews - either by purchasing or incentivizing people for positive reviews or writing a bunch of reviews from the same IP address (a helpful indicator that they may lack authenticity). While our recommendation software does a great job weeding out unreliable reviews so you don't have to, our investigation team is also always on the job. Yesterday we issued a new round of Consumer Alerts warnings in connection with a handful of businesses. 

Yelp Consumer Alert 3
An example of the evidence we've collected for one business.

We normally remove alerts after 90 days, but we won’t hesitate to renew them if we continue to see suspicious activity. That’s exactly what happened for two businesses this time around. We again found something amiss with two of the locations for Chicago-based nail salon, Azure Nails. And someone was caught red-handed yet again trying to buy reviews for Evergreen Carpet Cleaning in Los Angeles.

This type of activity not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules. Yelp’s main line of defense is our automated recommendation software which works behind the scenes at all times to recommend reliable and useful reviews. It’s unfortunate that some people are so set on gaming the system (and misleading consumers) that the additional step of posting Consumer Alerts is necessary. That said, we take our responsibility of providing trusted information very seriously, and we’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that Yelp remains helpful to consumers.