Remove Reviews from Yelp.com
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Many business owners who find themselves victims of the 1 in 5 (acknowledged!) fake reviews on Yelp.com will admit that fake reviews are a business killer.
So when I first read Yelp.com advice to victims of fake reviews I thought they were faking it.
Fabricated stories that are made to sound credible with loads of ‘detailed information’ about the ‘real experience’ suffered by average Joe whilst shopping at your store/restaurant/office are as common as the name Joe.
It is now scientifically proven that at least a fifth of the reviews on Yelp.com are fake reviews. The real number is much higher – in my experience around 40 percent of all reviews on online review websites, are fake.
Yelp.com admits to thousands of fake reviews
Yelp.com knows this. They admit that their automated filtering system flags out huge numbers of fake reviews. They say it proves their automated filtering system works. However, many independent business owners in the US and a growing number in the UK are convinced that the number of fake reviews flagged by Yelp.com automated filtering system is only the tip of the iceberg.
The admission came only after the publication of a credible research by professors from Harvard Business School. http://officialblog.Yelp.com.com/2013/09/fake-reviews-on-Yelp.com-dont-worry-weve-got-your-back.html
Whatever the real number of fake reviews is, if you are a victim, the only maths that counts is the maths behind your depleting bank account.
So what can you do if your business becomes a victim of fake reviews on Yelp.com?
Thankfully Yelp.com offers some advice.
Yelp.com says that if the “computer says no” then there is nothing you can do about a fake review.
Yelp.com offers some legal advice that basically says that you should not even bother to try and have the fake reviews removed because this will not be in your best interest. https://biz.Yelp.com.co.uk/support/common_questions
According to Yelp.com, you and your business just have to suffer until the inevitable end. And if you feel that this is not fair, then tough. The fact that most fake reviews are posted by or on behalf of competitors is neither here nor there. You should treat fake reviews like an act of God, with grace and acceptance.
Is Yelp.com right to discourage victims of fake reviews from taking action against reviewers or indeed against Yelp.com itself? Read on and make up your own mind.
This is the advice Yelp.com gives to victims of fake reviews:
“Nobody likes to get a negative review, and it’s even worse if you think it violates your legal rights. But a good lawyer will tell you the truth: defamation suits are notoriously expensive and difficult to win. “
I don’t mind being branded ‘ a bad lawyer’ by Yelp.com. After all, we are not exactly protecting the same interests here. However, the truth is that successful legal proceedings to remove fake reviews often cost £2,000 or less which is no more than the price of a small marketing campaign for a suffering business. The vast majority of matters are resolved by Yelp.com Google and the like without any litigation so getting a court order to remove a review without any opposition is often a straight forward matter. So as most legal proceedings against review websites are won before they even get to court, the suggestions that they are notoriously expensive or difficult to win are both highly misleading.
And it goes on:
“Worse, they (law suits) are very public. We can point to countless examples of ill-advised lawsuits that hurt the business far more than it ever helped”
Sure, people might hear about the fact that you won your case against Yelp.com but so what? What is so bad about standing up for what is right? As if you are better off with leads worth thousands of pounds or dollars being put off by a couple of shoddy reviews on Yelp.com.
And yes, some lawyers might give poor advice but if you go to a specialist internet and social media lawyer, this is unlikely.
More legal advice by Yelp.com, this time with a slight threatening tone coupled with a well wrapped ridicule-bullying, all spoken very softly:
“Nor will you get far by bringing Yelp.com into the dispute since Yelp.com merely acts as a forum like any other where people can share their views. (The law is well settled on this point, but you are welcome to ask your neighbourhood internet attorney to confirm.)”
Would you say the above statement is dismissive, derogatory or both? Particularly as the truth is exactly the opposite. The truth is that if you believe that you are a victim of fake online reviews, under UK laws, once you follow certain procedure, Yelp.com must give you the full name and a credible postal address of the poster or immediately remove the fake review from their website. Otherwise they will not have a defence in law for action for defamation and they will lose in court each time they refuse to remove an anonymous review. This is the way the reason why most cases are won without opposition.
And finally, if you still attached a degree of credibility to the advice from Yelp.com, then read this:
“There may be rare cases when it’s appropriate to take legal action, but in most cases, you won’t get what you are looking for by suing someone who gives you a bad review.”
This statement could not be further from the truth. The truth is that legal proceedings against Yelp.com is right, appropriate and very winnable in almost all cases where you want to fight fake reviews. You are likely to have the fake reviews removed within days if not hours plus you can discover who is out there to destroy you.
It would have been better for Yelp.com to avoid making such misleading statements as lack of transparency is viewed very suspiciously by a growing number of internet users.