20% of all Yelp reviews are written by paid shills

How many of the Yelp reviews you read would you guess are forged by the companies being reviewed? MarketWatch reports that 20% of Yelp reviews are fraudulent, typically written by freelance writers from the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe who receive between $1-10 for each review. 

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman eventually stepped in with “Operation Clear Turf,” a year-long investigation that is culminating in an agreement with 19 companies to stop their practice of forging reviews. The companies will also have to pay more than $350,000 in fines for astroturfing and false advertising.

Although Yelp clearly states in its rules that paid reviews are forbidden, the problem has only gotten worse — fake reviews only made up 5% of Yelp’s content in 2006, according to a study by Harvard assistant professor Michael Luca.

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