Last year Yelp was slapped with a class action lawsuit that alleged unfair business practices and accused the company of running an “extortion scheme.” This year, the New York Times reports that there may be even more sinister forces at work, one that the company itself is trying to stem.
This weekend's story by Times' David Segal reveals there are sites that pay thousands of people to perform microtasks, such as planting effusive reviews on Yelp for some businesses who pay for it and possibly writing disparaging ones on their competitors.
The paper says these workers are paid “a tiny sum” for each review. A researcher at the Stern School of Business at NYU has discovered a lot of these workers are based in India and can often earn $2-$3 an hour doing such tasks.
Yelp is fighting back with algorithms but acknowledges it isn't perfect.