Yelp has recorded every restaurant and business with suspicious reviews. See if your favorite spot is on the list.

illustration of a Yelp alert flagging a business with suspicious review activity
Yelp is publishing the names of businesses that are paying for customer reviews.Yelp
  • Yelp is calling out businesses that pay customers to leave favorable reviews.

  • The company recently started publishing a list of businesses it's flagged for suspicious reviews.

  • In a Yelp survey, 9 out of 10 people said they read online reviews to inform their buying decisions.

Yelp is ramping up its offensive on businesses that offer customers gift cards or other incentives in exchange for a five-star review.

Last week, the site published a list of all the establishments it has flagged for unusual review activity in the past. The company has issued more than 4,900 such alerts on US businesses since 2012. Previously, these alerts have been only temporarily listed on the the businesses' Yelp pages.

One list will include all businesses that have been flagged for "compensated activity," which refers to exchanging "payment in the form of cash, discounts, gift certificates or other incentives" for writing, changing, or deleting reviews.

Another list will include businesses that have received a "suspicious review activity alert," which occurs when a number of positive reviews come from the same IP address or when reviews are connected to a group that organizes incentivized reviews.

The review platform prohibits solicited reviews and has built software to detect them.

Misleading reviews can greatly influence customers' purchases. In an August survey commissioned by Yelp of more than 2,000 adults living in the US, 93% of respondents said they read online reviews to inform their purchasing choices. Seventy percent of respondents said it's rare for them to visit a new business without looking at online reviews first

Yelp has been plagued with fake or manipulated reviews for years. A 2013 study found that 20% of all Yelp reviews at the time were fake. Other sites like GrubHub and Seamless have also struggled with inauthentic reviews.

In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission sent notices to more than 700 companies warning of steep fines for "fake reviews and other forms of deceptive endorsements." The notices went to companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, Target, Tesla, and more, though the FTC noted that "a recipient's presence on this list does not in any way suggest that it has engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct" and that letters were sent to "an array of large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, top consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies."

Check out Yelp's index of flagged businesses here to see if your favorite establishment made the list.

Read the original article on Business Insider