Qype said three per cent of new reviews had been removed from the site’s 13.5m posts since taking a tougher stance on misleading or malicious reviews last year. The release of the figures represent the first time the site has indicated the success, or otherwise, of its new stance.
Using a so-called ‘integrity tool’, which has been custom built for the website, Qype said suspect users, listings and reviews are flagged up to be automatically deleted or checked by an in-house team.
Blocking persistent offenders
Ian Brotherston, chief executive of Qype, said the move to target fake reviews was designed to reassure businesses which may have suffered from untrue listings.
“With a new review appearing every 30 seconds on everything from hostels and tourist attractions to hairdressers and minicab companies, it’s vital we stamp out biased or unreliable posts. We have been proactively removing reviews from Qype and blocking persistent offenders from the site since our campaign started. We’re constantly updating our procedures with the sole focus of guaranteeing the integrity of our reviews,” he said.
While not revealing exactly how the ‘integrity tool’ they have adopted works, a spokesperson for the company explained to BigHospitality that users or posts were flagged using ‘automatic semantic programmes’.
Last year BigHospitality reported Cornell University researchers were developing computer software to identify fraudulent online hotel reviews. The software worked by identifying linguistic and keyword patterns in truthful and false reviews. Initial tests had found it to be 90 per cent accurate.
The news comes just weeks after the debate over reviews website TripAdvisor developed with an ASA ruling that banned the site from claiming its reviews are from real travellers or are ‘honest, real or trusted’.
Qype was founded in 2006 and now operates in 166,000 towns and cities across the world online and via mobile applications.
Qype said the tougher stance on fraudulent listings was designed to stop people using the site untruthfully for financial gain. In addition to stopping companies posting positive reviews about themselves or negative reviews on competitors, Qype claimed to be trying to address other problems including:
- Companies creating fake listings for an emergency service and adding a super-premium contact number
- Agencies managing free listings on behalf of small busy businesses, in exchange for payment, claiming to be in partnership with the site
- Businesses claiming their office or service is in a phantom location in order to benefit from Google local searches that carry the site’s reviews
- Social reputation management companies posting fake reviews on behalf of clients
- Spammers posting links within reviews or comments to draw users to their own pages