On a user-generated site such as Yelp, the value is in trust — users must be able to trust that the reviews are genuine and posted by real people.
A recent Gartner study, indicated that by 2014 up to 15 percent of reviews on user-generated review sites will be fake and paid for by companies. This undermines the entire premise of social media reviews and Yelp isn’t standing for it.
According to a recent report on Entrepreneur.com, Yelp has launched a consumer alert system, warning it’s users when there is evidence a company might be paying for positive reviews. The alert system even gives Yelpers the opportunity to check out the evidence for themselves. So far the new alerts have been applied to eight pages with similar warnings issued since the Consumer Alert program launched last year.
In an official statement on the Yelp company blog, the VP of Consumer & Mobile Products acknowledged that there will always be people trying to game the system. He also pointed out that paid reviews are in violation of FTC regulations and declares that Yelp will be vigilant about not letting gamers undermine the user confidence.
“With great power comes great responsibility. Whether you want to quote Spiderman or Voltaire on that one, wiser words have not been spoken, and you can rest easy knowing we’re holding up our end of the bargain.”
Related: Is Yelp the Thug of the Internet?