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Call Kurtis: Why Did Yelp Filter My Review?

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Kurtis Ming Kurtis Ming
Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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People posting reviews on Yelp say they’re not always showing up. We call on Kurtis Ming to ask why.

The problem is there are fake reviews online.

Sometimes businesses post positive reviews about themselves. Sometimes competitors write nasty stuff.

We’ve learned Yelp filters reviews they think are fake, but a Lincoln mom wasn’t happy when her real review was one of them.

Happy with the experience her two boys had at Flip 2 It Sports Center in Roseville, mom Liz Jordan “Yelped” about it but it never showed up online.

“Kind of disappointed. I took the time to write a review for people to read. Why take the time?” asked Liz.

Liz was surprised to learn Yelp filtered her review.

You’d only see it if you click on the filtered link under the business’ review page, then type in a special code.

That’s where we found 28 out of 31 reviews written about Flip 2 It Sports Center.

Gym owners Sabine and Michael Sypolt don’t feel that’s fair, especially considering two of the three reviews on the front page are negative.

Only the three count toward their less-than-stellar rating.

“We’re not scared of negative reviews, but we also were frustrated because we have so many positive reviews that people should have the ability to read,” said Michael.

In an email, Yelp tells us: “Yelp has an automated review filter in place to protect both business owners and consumers from fake, shill or malicious reviews. It’s not a perfect system … but we think it does a pretty good job given the sheer volume of reviews,” said Darnell Holloway, manager of local business outreach.

Social media expert Patrick O’Malley says Yelp tends to filter out reviews from one-time users.

“The problem is that the businesses are powerless. Yelp is an independent company, it’s a free site, they can do what they want to a large extent, so they can filter out what they want,” said O’Malley.

Liz feels she was censored.

“I don’t think they should be filtered. I think everyone’s opinion should be heard,” she said..

Yelp tells us 78 million people use their site each month and that one out of every five reviews are automatically filtered.

But they won’t tell us how it works to prevent people from gaming the system.

Yelp Full Statement

“Yelp has an automated review filter in place to protect both business owners and consumers from fake, shill or malicious reviews. It’s not a perfect system – after all, legitimate reviews sometimes look questionable, and questionable reviews sometimes look legitimate – but we think it does a pretty good job given the sheer volume of reviews. It sometimes affects more positive reviews simply because Yelp users write more positive reviews in the first place. In other cases, it affects positive reviews that appear to have been solicited by business owners. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, we actually discourage them from directly asking for, or, soliciting reviews from their clients. Yelp has always been a community-driven review site and not a “drive-by” one, so we feel the most useful reviews are those that occur organically.”

– Darnell Holloway, Manager of Local Business Outreach

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