The Consumer Alerts program aims to fight the spread of misinformation on Yelp. A Consumer Alert is a pop up that is placed on a business page to warn users when we’ve detected abnormal activity or attempts to mislead them. Before placing a Consumer Alert on a business page, we conduct a thorough investigation and will provide the evidence we find whenever possible.
Types of alerts
Compensated Activity Alert
When we have evidence that someone has offered cash or other incentives in exchange for a review, we display a Compensated Activity Alert on the page. Offering payment for reviews is against our policies because it artificially inflates ratings. That’s not helpful for people trying to find reliable information about businesses, and it’s unfair to businesses that work hard to earn ratings and reviews honestly.
Give yourself 5 Stars? It may cost you [The New York Times]
Suspicious Review Activity Alert
When our system detects questionable activity on a business page, we display a Suspicious Review Activity alert after a thorough investigation of the incident. This can include large numbers of reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates incentivised fake reviews.
Yelp says it shut down 550 user accounts after discovering a fraudulent review ring [The Verge]
Yelp cracks down on ‘review rings’ as Google continues to see widespread map spam [Search Engine Land]
Questionable Legal Threats Alert
When we have evidence that a business may be abusing the legal system to intimidate or silence a reviewer, we display a Questionable Legal Threats alert. Reviewers have a First Amendment right to honestly describe their experiences with a business, and we believe consumers should know when a business tries to deny that right.
Yelp is now marking businesses that sue reviewers [TIME]
Yelp’s warning: This dentist might sue you for posting a negative review [BuzzFeed News]
Unusual Activity Alert
When a business becomes the subject of media attention, people may come to Yelp to express their opinion about it. Reviews that are written as a form of social commentary are not useful for people who rely on Yelp for accurate, first-hand descriptions of the experience at a business. When we notice an unusual spike in activity on a business page, we will display an Unusual Activity Alert and temporarily disable content. When activity returns to normal, our moderators remove the alert and clean up the page.
How Yelp manages social activism review storms online [Yelp Blog]
Bars with vaccine requirements are being flooded with negative reviews [Gizmodo]
Public Attention Alert
This alert was introduced in response to a rise in social activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. If someone associated with a business is accused of, or the target of, racist behavior, we will place a Public Attention Alert on the business page to warn consumers that the business may be seeing an unusual spike in reviews as a result of increased public attention. Learn more about Public Attention Alerts.
Commonly asked questions regarding Yelp’s media-fueled Consumer Alerts [Yelp Blog]
Racist Behavior Alert
As the nation reckons with issues of systemic racism, there is a clear need to help people understand if they will be welcome and safe at a particular business. Now, when a business gains media attention for using racist slurs or symbols, or other acts of extreme racism, Yelp will place a Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert on their Yelp page to inform users, along with a link to a news article where they can learn more about the incident. Learn more about Racist Behavior Alerts.
New Consumer Alert on Yelp takes firm stance against racism [Yelp Blog]
Yelp says it will mark pages of businesses accused of racist conduct [The New York Times]
Frequently asked questions
How can consumers report a business that pressures or offers to pay them to change or remove a negative review?
Pressuring or offering payment to change or remove reviews violates Yelp Community Guidelines and may violate the Federal Trade Commission’s endorsement guides. If you find yourself facing pressure from a business to alter your review, please contact our Support team so we can help.
Can anyone accuse a business of racism to have Yelp put an alert on their page?
No. A Racist Behavior Alert will only appear on a business page when the alleged incident has been reported by a credible media organization, and there is clear, factual evidence of the incident.
For what locations are the Consumer Alerts published?
Suspicious Review Activity Alerts may be published on Yelp business pages worldwide. Compensated Activity Alerts and Questionable Legal Threats Alerts are published on Yelp business pages in the U.S. only. Unusual Activity Alerts, Public Attention Alerts and Business Accused of Racists Behavior Alerts are published on Yelp business pages in the U.S. and Canada.