Faking Reviews Can Lead To Fines Or Website Delisting — They Are Mostly Useless Anyway

By David Bolthouse, President & CEO

Google and Yelp are more diligent than ever before at removing reviews if their algorithm thinks the reviews might be fake. Both will also take legal action, or delist your site, if they find you are faking reviews.

Here is what they look for:

  1. More than one review from the same IP address (like your campus wireless) will cause all reviews from that same IP to be taken down. Reviews need to be done from home or on a phone not connected to the campus wireless.

  1. A sudden influx of reviews at once — if Google or Yelp get a bunch of reviews for your organization at once, the system will surmise that you are forcing the issue and all of those reviews will be removed. Reviews need to happen gradually over time and appear to be sincere. Sadly, most bad reviews seem more sincere and in-depth to these systems, so they tend to keep bad ones and throw out the good ones.

  1. Several reviews for similar companies in different parts of the country.

  1. The reviewer only has one review, not many, so it is unusual for them to give reviews.

Government regulators are also on the hunt for companies faking reviews. Some companies are getting fines, and more regulations are coming down the pike to prevent the hiring of people to write and post fake positive reviews. While it is okay for anyone to write a review, it is not legal to have one person write many reviews about one entity under different online personas.

Of course, the regulation and fines only affect positive reviews! Few regulators nor the review services are concerned about the people who have a mission to destroy your organization by writing a bunch of false reviews. The legal system figures that if you want to get those taken down, you will simply take the person (if you know who it is) to court. However, that can cost well over $100,000 in court and legal fees per instance, and then the reviewer can change their identity online and do it all over again. That’s why few companies pursue it in court.

Facebook Changes It’s Review Process

  • Facebook will no longer be collecting review ratings, and instead will

request recommendations from users.

  • Recommendations are a binary ‘Yes/No’ choice so reputation managers

will need to look into the text of the feedback more to get the true story.

  • ‘Rich endorsements’ will allow Facebook users to upload images of their business experience to accompany recommendations.

  • New recommendation reporting functionality should make fake reviews

easier to flag for moderation than on other platforms.

Jamie Pitman BrightLocal