Yelp has a new way to deal with bogus reviews on its site.
There are now more than 30 million reviews on Yelp, according to The New York Times. But many questions about the site's credibility have arisen.
What can you do when reviews that are being presented as the best collective wisdom are actually a farce?
Going forward, when Yelp finds out about a false review, they will now post a red flag warning message to users.
Say you're looking for Italian restaurants. One comes up on the list that's faking reviews. What you will see in bold type is CONSUMER ALERT. Then the accompanying language will go on to state, "We caught someone red handed trying to buy reviews for this business."
That's like a scarlet letter. It's very effective public shaming. Businesses will now know the consequences of cooking the books to get false reviews will be too painful.
My wife recently has an abysmal time at a restaurant. She's not normally a criticizer, but the experience was so bad she made an exception and posted a bad review. She was laughing because so many reviews were like hers, and then, on the other hand, there were others that seemed bogus, praising the restaurant as the greatest thing since food was invented.
Meanwhile, my senior producer Kim has a photo business she runs on the side. She uses review sites in lieu of traditional advertising and tells clients they can write a review on Yelp if they're happy with her service. Unfortunately, Yelp flagged five of the legitimate reviews people wrote about her business for being too positive!
So this system is a work in progress, obviously.