Friday, June 27, 2014

Some retail businesses get threats of spammed negative reviews, unless they pay up in bitcoins; ABC offers advise to people using Yelp and Angie's List

The latest twist in the “negative review” problem is businesses (like restaurants) reporting receiving “notice of extortion” letters, demanding payment in bitcoins to prevent assaults by negative reviews (especially on Yelp, it seems) and various other threats that don’t need to be repeated.  A little bit of the Mafia seems to getting into the bad-review business.  Sounds like soap-opera stuff, maybe a future plot thread for “Days of our Lives” (with Theresa as villain). 
Webroot wrote a story about it on its blog, with an entry, “2014: The Year that Extortion Went Mainstream”, link here.  Not to mention, I don’t pay much attention to online reviews on these sites myself, because I know a lot of them are bogus – that is, until I run into a problem with a particular business’s customer service (like warranty or repair service).  Typically, I’ll be skeptical of a review if it doesn’t seem to be factual or well written.    If I was in the dating game, maybe restaurant reviews would matter more.  (Oh, that brings to mind the days of heterosexual dating back in 1971, and we didn’t go Dutch.)
Darren Paul has a story about the problem on the UK Register here. It seems that there is an element that wants to do this “because we can”, just like in crime films.  You would think the public would wake up and not believe “spam” reviews.  
In another story on the online review issue, ABC World News Tonight broadcast a brief report on how to avoid getting sued if you review businesses on Yelp or Angie’s List.  Make sure that you emphasize that these are your opinions (“I believe that …).   Stick to verifiable facts, with proof (like photos or receipts).  I wasn’t able to find the link for this story online. 

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