In today’s online world, online reviews are extremely powerful. A business that is reviewed positively will tend to be looked on more positively and will have potential customers at least take a look at them while a business that is reviewed poorly will simply be skipped over. Many people would argue that this is simply the cream rising to the top and it is the way businesses should be looked at. The natural selection of the business world you might say. Unfortunately not all reviews though are legitimate and these reviews have the power to negatively affect businesses like yours. So, if you have received a fake review, what can you do about it?

Patience

Combating a fake review is not something that can be done quickly and unfortunately it seems like lies can spread about something around the world before the truth ties its shoes and puts on its pants. In the end you want to have that review removed and if you do, prepare yourself as the process to remove them is not a quick or easy process. 

There is of course a reason for that. No one wants an unscrupulous business owner to be able to get bad reviews just because they don’t like them. That would defeat the purpose of online reviews and would negatively impact their competitors who are putting in the effort to earn positive reviews. In the end the decision to remove the review is not yours alone and just like in a court of law you will need to prove your case, perhaps multiple times.

Google

The first place that many people go whenever trying to find someone who offers a good or service is Google. You probably have the search engine page bookmarked and your fingers can reflexively type in the address. It should also be no surprise that this is the first place that bad people will visit to leave bad or fake reviews. 

The first thing to do is to quickly respond to the review, even if you know that it is fake. Do it in a calm and polite manner as this reply will be seen by others. Most people just look at the rating of a business but some people will read the reviews, specifically the negative ones. The review itself may not even be for the lowest rating as many scammers will attempt to hide theirs by giving it 2 or 3 stars. 

Not only will this response make it look like you are trying to help and make things right but if you politely point out errors in the review, readers may disregard it. After all, if you sell arts and crafts but the review is complaining about the home security system you supposedly installed for them most readers will realize that something is not right. It could also be possible that the review is for a business of a similar name and if that is the case the reviewer should be able to delete it themselves once they realize their error.

Inappropriate reviews can be flagged and there will be a small flag icon in the review to do just that. Flagging the review will take you to a policy violation page where you will be required to enter your email address and pick the violation type. Multiple people can flag reviews as well and there can be power in numbers. At this point Google will be notified and they will follow up if more information is needed or if they have anything to share with you. This can take several days. Yours is not the only fake review around after all.

If the review is not removed or you haven’t heard anything back from Google it is also possible to escalate this through Google Small Business Support by getting in touch with an associate there. This can be done through the dashboard and by going to the reviews section, choosing a contact method and filling in the requested information. When the associate contacts you, you will have to make your case (again) as to why it is false or why it violates the terms of service. The associate will not be able to remove the review but they are able to forward it to a specialist who can if they feel that the review is inappropriate. Once the specialist makes their decision you will be contacted and if they decide in your favor the review will be removed. 

For a success story doing this click here.

Facebook

Of course Google is not alone when it comes to fake reviews and of all of the social media platforms on the planet Facebook is perhaps the most notorious when it comes to this. But just like with Google it is possible to have a fake review removed. You will want to be logged into the page for the business and not in your personal account when you begin this process.

To remove a review it requires you to report it to Facebook (obviously). You can do this by going to the Reviews section on the left hand panel and finding the review that you want to dispute. On that review on the top right is an icon with a box with an exclamation point and three dots and you will want to click that to report it. You will then be prompted to fill out some information.

This will not be a quick process in most situations and it can be extremely frustrating. You may be better off just like with Google by responding to the review to try to gather more information. It may be a legitimate review and the reviewer just isn’t explaining things well (and that is on them). Just be polite and calm because that will be visible to other users. Or surround the review with loads of positive reviews to cancel it out.

Yelp

The process for Yelp is much the same. Yelp has very specific reasons that could lead to a review being removed like when one is not written from the customer’s perspective, plagiarizing a review, a review being for the wrong business, talking about business policies, posting personal information and more. On the review will be a flag that can be hit and it will prompt the user for more information. Like with the others you will have to prove your case that it is a violation of Yelp’s Terms of Service it will be removed. But generally Yelp does not remove reviews unless they are in blatant violation of those terms so you might be better off just responding to the review.

Dealing With Fake Reviews

Dealing with fake reviews can be a never ending process and it may be one that you cannot win. There are bad people that exist and there are people who just like to cause trouble and social media has given them access to a new domain that they can cause trouble in. It is no longer Bart Simpson prank calling Moe’s Tavern and the result of their efforts can have real world consequences. When it comes to dealing with fake reviews every platform knows that they exist and they have a process in place to deal with it. It may take time and a lot of patience but if you can prove that it is fake it will be removed. 

Is it worth your time? That is up to you.

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