IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud

  • Michael Luca

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)

  • Georgios Zervas

    ()

    (Boston University)

Registered author(s):

    Consumer reviews are now part of everyday decision-making. Yet, the credibility of these reviews is fundamentally undermined when businesses commit review fraud, creating fake reviews for themselves or their competitors. We investigate the economic incentives to commit review fraud on the popular review platform Yelp, using two complementary approaches and datasets. We begin by analyzing restaurant reviews that are identified by Yelp's filtering algorithm as suspicious, or fake ? and treat these as a proxy for review fraud (an assumption we provide evidence for). We present four main findings. First, roughly 16% of restaurant reviews on Yelp are filtered. These reviews tend to be more extreme (favorable or unfavorable) than other reviews, and the prevalence of suspicious reviews has grown significantly over time. Second, a restaurant is more likely to commit review fraud when its reputation is weak, i.e., when it has few reviews, or it has recently received bad reviews. Third, chain restaurants ? which benefit less from Yelp ? are also less likely to commit review fraud. Fourth, when restaurants face increased competition, they become more likely to receive unfavorable fake reviews. Using a separate dataset, we analyze businesses that were caught soliciting fake reviews through a sting conducted by Yelp. These data support our main results, and shed further light on the economic incentives behind a business's decision to leave fake reviews.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/pages/download.aspx?name=14-006.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 14-006.

    as
    in new window

    Length: 35 pages
    Date of creation: Jul 2013
    Date of revision: May 2015
    Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-006
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts 02163
    Phone: 617.495.6000
    Web page: http://www.hbs.edu/

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. David Godes & José C. Silva, 2012. "Sequential and Temporal Dynamics of Online Opinion," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(3), pages 448-473, May.
    2. Bryan Bollinger & Phillip Leslie & Alan Sorensen, 2011. "Calorie Posting in Chain Restaurants," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 91-128, February.
    3. Weijia Dai & Ginger Z. Jin & Jungmin Lee & Michael Luca, 2012. "Optimal Aggregation of Consumer Ratings: An Application to Yelp.com," NBER Working Papers 18567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michael Anderson & Jeremy Magruder, 2012. "Learning from the Crowd: Regression Discontinuity Estimates of the Effects of an Online Review Database," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 957-989, 09.
    5. Anindya Ghose & Panagiotis G. Ipeirotis & Beibei Li, 2012. "Designing Ranking Systems for Hotels on Travel Search Engines by Mining User-Generated and Crowdsourced Content," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(3), pages 493-520, May.
    6. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
    7. Mark Duggan & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Winning Isn't Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1594-1605, December.
    8. Chrysanthos Dellarocas, 2006. "Strategic Manipulation of Internet Opinion Forums: Implications for Consumers and Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(10), pages 1577-1593, October.
    9. Dina Mayzlin & Yaniv Dover & Judith A. Chevalier, 2012. "Promotional Reviews: An Empirical Investigation of Online Review Manipulation," NBER Working Papers 18340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2009. "Reputational Incentives for Restaurant Hygiene," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 237-67, February.
    11. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Soebagio Notosoehardjo)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.