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New York regulators crack down on fake online reviews, is Google Play next?


The New York Times reports that New York regulators will today announce a new initiative that aims to crackdown on fake reviews online. They’ve already reached settlement agreements with a number of companies and issued fines of around $350,000 to companies purchasing and providing fake reviews, many of which are submitted to services such as Google, Yahoo, and Yelp. Fake reviews have always been an issue for Google Play and just about every mobile app marketplace, so perhaps regulators will soon extend their investigation to mobile app stores as well.

“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” said Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”

Regulators found that US Coachways, one of the companies included in the investigation, had hired freelance writers to write fake reviews on Yelp and other services: Expand

Google Place Pages redesigned, review system changed

It seems like each day doesn’t pass without Google redesigning one of their products to match the Google+ look. While Google redesigned News yesterday, Place Pages have now been added to the list. The redesign matches the overall Google+ look so there’s not much explaining there, but the way Google now handles reviews is worth noting.

As TechCrunch reports rather than stealing reviews from sources like TripAdvisor and CitySearch, Google now uses reviews form its users. The business above originally had 1,110 reviews but is now down to 171 reviews after the redesign. Google notes:

Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we’re continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

We’ve also heard there was some legal input into this as Yelp and others were crying foul to the Justice Dept.