Yelp Publishes 2023 Trust & Safety Report

02/28/2024

The company closed more than 278,600 user accounts for violating its policies, and prevented more than 40,700 potential new business pages from appearing on the platform for being associated with spammy behaviors

More than 23,600 inappropriate reviews were prevented from publishing on Yelp due to a new system that uses LLMs to flag potentially inappropriate reviews for evaluation by the platform’s moderators

Yelp Inc. (NYSE:YELP), the company that connects people with great local businesses, today released its annual Trust & Safety Report, providing insights into the extensive measures the company took in 2023 to mitigate attempts to mislead consumers, including efforts that were orchestrated off of Yelp. The report provides information on how Yelp’s automated recommendation software helps surface the most reliable and helpful reviews; how the company combats compensated and incentivized reviews through various efforts, including an index of Consumer Alert recipients; the extensive work to remove inappropriate content and bad actors with new technology leveraging large language models (LLMs); how Yelp moderates business pages that gain public attention and takes action to protect consumers from abuse of the legal system; and more.

Of the reviews contributed to Yelp in 2023, about 20% were either not recommended by its automated recommendation software or removed by its User Operations team as a result of the company's extensive trust and safety measures (as of December 31, 2023). (Graphic: Yelp)

Of the reviews contributed to Yelp in 2023, about 20% were either not recommended by its automated recommendation software or removed by its User Operations team as a result of the company's extensive trust and safety measures (as of December 31, 2023). (Graphic: Yelp)

“Defending the integrity and quality of content on Yelp is the foundation for everything we do,” said Noorie Malik, vice president of User Operations at Yelp. “As we release our 2023 Trust & Safety Report, it’s clear that our rigorous approaches that blend advanced technology with dedicated human moderators uphold Yelp as a reliable resource for our users. In fact, the Journal of Marketing Research recently deemed Yelp as a ‘Guardian of Trust’ and we are consistently working on new ways to further maintain the trust and safety of our users.”

Key findings from the 2023 Yelp Trust & Safety Report:

  • Approximately 22 million reviews were contributed to Yelp in 2023, up nearly 6% from 2022.1
    • Of these reviews, about 78% were recommended by Yelp’s automated recommendation software, which helps surface the most helpful and reliable content to consumers. Additionally, 16% of reviews were not recommended, 4% were removed by Yelp’s moderators, and 2% were removed by reviewers themselves.2
  • Yelp relies on its community of consumers and business owners to report reviews that they believe violate the company’s policies. In 2023, Yelp removed more than 207,300 reported reviews, with 26% of these reported reviews being removed for not sufficiently reflecting a firsthand consumer experience.3
  • More than 278,600 user accounts were closed for violating the company’s Terms of Service, including suspected deceptive or abusive behaviors.4
  • The platform prevented more than 40,700 potential new business pages from appearing on Yelp for being associated with spammy behaviors in violation of Yelp’s policies — up 24% year-over-year.5
    • Yelp also removed more than 1,500 business pages for being associated with lead generators, or bad actors that attempt to create fake business pages with the goal of generating leads and auctioning them to other contractors.6
  • Yelp strictly prohibits compensated and incentivized reviews. In September 2023, the company began indexing recipients of Compensated Activity Alerts and Suspicious Review Activity Alerts to make it easier for people and regulators to identify suspicious review behaviors.
    • 99 Compensated Activity Alerts were placed on business pages after Yelp received evidence of someone offering payment or other incentives in exchange for writing, changing, preventing, or removing reviews.6
    • 589 Suspicious Review Activity Alerts were placed on business pages after Yelp detected a large number of suspicious positive reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates the buying or selling of online reviews.6
      • In 2023, Yelp saw a 50% year-over-year increase in alerts placed related to an inordinate number of suspicious positive reviews coming from the same IP address, a common tactic used to inflate a business’s rating.6
    • Yelp made more than 1,300 reports to other online platforms (such as Facebook, X, Pinterest, and more) to warn them of content from more than 900 suspicious groups, posts, or individuals found on their sites attempting to trade or pay for reviews.6 Other platforms took action related to only 54% of incidents Yelp’s investigators reported — down nearly 30% from 2022.
    • To rein in reputation management companies, Yelp filed a lawsuit against Reviewvio in December 2023, which offered “review gating” services to local businesses. This deceptive practice involves only inviting consumers with positive feedback to write a public review, while criticisms are diverted to non-public communications. Reviewvio also falsely claimed to be able, for a fee, to remove “bad reviews” from Yelp and other online review platforms.
  • To keep potentially inappropriate content off of the platform, Yelp integrated LLMs to its automated systems to detect and flag reviews with egregious instances of hate speech, vulgar language, or threats for the company’s moderators to evaluate before they are published to Yelp. This update enabled its moderators to prevent more than 23,600 reviews from ever publishing to Yelp.3
    • Since determining whether content is inappropriate can be context specific, Yelp also continues to rely on users to report content that may violate its Content Guidelines. As an additional line of defense, Yelp’s human moderators removed more than 28,800 reported reviews for containing threats, lewdness, hate speech, or other potentially inappropriate content.3
  • Yelp proactively removed more than one million photos for violating its content policies.6
    • Relatedly, in 2023, Yelp enhanced its neural network-based systems to better detect photos that may violate its policies, and introduced a new system that proactively removes suspected inappropriate video content. These systems flag visual content for Yelp’s moderators to review before they are published on the platform.
  • As part of Yelp’s broader Consumer Alerts program, 986 Unusual Activity Alerts and Public Attention Alerts were placed on Yelp pages related to a business gaining public attention, resulting in the removal of more than 49,100 reviews.3
    • 60% of these alerts stemmed from a post associated with a business that went viral on TikTok, X, Facebook, or other social media in 2023.3
  • At times, the legal system can be misused to silence consumers, which is why Yelp often objects to legal demands that seek personal user account information. In 2023, Yelp avoided producing information related to 97% of user accounts that were the subject of legal demands from law enforcement, government agencies, and private parties in 2023.3
  • The company places Questionable Legal Threat Alerts on business pages when it receives evidence that a business may be abusing the legal system. In 2023, 53% of these alerts stemmed from gag clauses, or contractual terms that attempt to prohibit consumers from posting feedback about goods or services.3

For more information, read Yelp’s 2023 Trust & Safety Report, as well as a blog post and one-pager, which provide a high-level overview. Assets and images from the report can be found here. To learn more about the ways Yelp maintains the integrity and quality of its content, visit trust.yelp.com.

1 Data is sourced globally as of Dec. 31, 2023, and reflects reviews contributed from Jan. 1, 2023 through Dec. 31, 2023. This number has been rounded and includes reviews that are currently recommended, not recommended, or that have been removed.

2 Reviews removed by Yelp’s moderators or reviews removed as a result of account closures for content policy violations. Yelp users can remove their own individual reviews or remove all their reviews by closing or deleting their accounts.

3 Data is sourced from the U.S. only.

4 Data is sourced globally. These account closures stem from both user reports and proactive investigations. When an account is closed due to suspected deceptive or abusive behaviors, the associated reviews are removed as well.

5 Data is sourced from the U.S. and Canada.

6 Data is sourced globally.

About Yelp Inc.

Yelp Inc. (yelp.com) is a community-driven platform that connects people with great local businesses. Millions of people rely on Yelp for useful and trusted local business information, reviews and photos to help inform their spending decisions. As a one-stop local platform, Yelp helps consumers easily discover, connect and transact with businesses across a broad range of categories by making it easy to request a quote for a service, book a table at a restaurant and more. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in 2004.

Yelp Inc.

Julianne Rowe

press@yelp.com

Source: Yelp Inc.