The other night I thought I’d try one of the newest and hippest restaurants in town that everyone’s been talking about over social media. I figured it was worth a try to see what all the hype was about. Unfortunately, there was nothing special about it at all and I had one of the worst dining and service experiences of my life. Not only was the place highly over priced, the service was terrible and it took me over two hours to get my food when people were coming in after me and leaving before me. The waiter also had a terrible attitude problem and had no respect for me as his customer. Like many angry Millennials who have a terrible service experience, I took to Yelp to express my dissatisfaction with the company. In fact, I was so angry that I made a few fake email accounts and wrote multiple reviews as my way of “getting back” at the restaurant. I was able to shave off half a star from the company’s overall Yelp rating. I later felt guilty and removed my false duplicated Yelp reviews, but then it got me to wonder just how many fake Yelp reviews are there? Below are four things you most likely didn’t know about the world of fake online reviews:
Fake Yelp Reviews are More Prevalent Than We Think
I turns out that not only do consumers make fake Yelp reviews about a company, but also, companies make fake reviews about themselves as an effort to increase positive ratings online which in turn will lead to more customers (Lubin, 2012).
Twenty Percent of all Yelp Reviews are Fake
According to an article by Business Insider, a whopping 20 percent of all Yelp reviews are fake. In 2006, it was reported that only 5 percent of yelp reviews were fake which tells us that this trend isn’t going anywhere soon (D’onfro, 2013).
Entire Businesses Specialize in Writing Fake Yelp Reviews
Believe it or not, fake Yelp reviews have become so popular, that there are entire businesses who capitalize on writing them. According to Business Insider, this process is called “astroturfing ” and companies hire freelancers from places like the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Eastern Europe to write fake reviews for $1 to $10 each (D’onfro, 2013). These fake reviews on a website such as Yelp that attracts over million monthly visitors could mean big business for companies who do it.
Fake Yelp Reviews Are the Equivalent of False Advertising
According to the Federal Trade Commission, a review is considered deceptive advertising if any material connection between the reviewer and the business being reviewed is not disclosed in the review (Fell, 2013). Therefore a fake Yelp review is considered a form of false advertising and has been used as a loophole for many reputation management companies to boost their client’s public perception (Suligson, 2013).
With all the fake Yelp reviews on the web, it’s important to know that not everything you read is true and always remind yourself just how easy it is to make a fake review. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was easily able to make a number of fake reviews that shaved off an entire half star of a company. Remember that the same thing could be done to gain a half star, and if done on a widespread level, the company could go from having one star to five stars literally over night. As a closing note, readers should think critically when reading online Yelp reviews and seek multiple sources before determining whether or not you will visit a restaurant or use a service that is mentioned online.
D’onfro, J. (2013). A Whopping 20% Of Yelp Reviews Are Fake. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/20-percent-of-yelp-reviews-fake-2013-9
Fell, J. (2013). Yelp: We Won’t Stand for Businesses That Pay for Fake Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227818
Lubin, G. (2012). The Illegal Way To Improve Your Rating On Yelp. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/the-illegal-way-to-improve-your-rating-on-yelp-2012-2
Suligson, S. (2013). Yelp Reviews: Can You Trust Them? Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/yelp-reviews-can-you-trust-them/