The Daily Rail: New AI Technology Targets Yelp with Fake Reviews

Friday, September 1, 2017


Today's Specials: 


HACK #099: Detect Restaurant Gas Leaks with Soap [Restaurant Hacks]

No one wants a gas leak in their restaurant. Here's an easy way of finding where the leak is, so your repair man can get working on it faster.




Two Burritos and a Boat

A Houston couple trapped by Hurricane Harvey called their local Chick-Fil-a where they ordered two burritos and a boat to go. The store manager reportedly owned a boat and helped the couple evacuate during the massive floods. Shortly after, disaster relief enforcement found and evacuated those involved. Talk about exceptional customer service.


Bad Jokes for Better Tips

Some servers will say just about anything to get better tips, and that includes some really terrible jokes. Munchies interviewed six different restaurant servers in Amsterdam to find out what terrible jokes they tell to make better tips. After a few drinks, everything seems funny.


Behavior Economics and Food

Scientific studies are the reasoning behind almost everything we do, but especially what we eat. Behavioral scientist Brian Wansink offers insight on the evolution of food and how scientific studies shape what and how we eat. “If scientific research were about getting the right answer, methods be damned.”



Why it matters to you: New AI technology could make undetectable fake reviews.

Those of you that have been reading our newsletters over time know we have no love for Yelp. While we appreciate the social marketing that can be achieved with a good Yelp strategy, we join our subscribers in outrage over the maddeningly opaque way they manage reviews. Well, if you believe these researchers at the University of Chicago, things just got worse… and this time it might be Yelp that actually gets hurt. These academics were able to create an artificial intelligence (AI) program that can write reviews so authentic that Yelp won’t be able to distinguish them from real ones.

If you’re thinking how is that different than now then you are missing the wider issue. Authentic reviews are the cornerstone of any social proof you use to attract guests. If those guests learn that this technology eliminates the reliability of the review they use, then Yelp and other peer review sites will be deafeningly muted. At first blush you might say, so what? However, with as many as 90 million people accessing Yelp’s review and location data, that’s a huge market you won’t have access to. This goes for other sites that leverage peer reviews like Amazon and Google. There are some fixes, but it will require raising the bar on those that would want to muddy the waters of review sites and might not still be effective at stemming them. Stay tuned on this one, because it could literally destroy Yelp and other sites like it, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.



Why it matters to you: NY restaurant is under fire for racist slur typed on a receipt.

Most often, unintendedly harmful jokes made by employees are not actually intended to make their way back to the customer. A New York restaurant is under fire after a picture of a receipt was posted to social media by an Asian woman with an Asian slur titled as the customer name. The photo of the receipt has made its rounds on social media, sparking outrage from the Asian community calling for a boycott of the restaurant. They're also encouraging people to call the restaurants directly letting them “know they have a racist staff.” Since the Facebook post, the restaurant has felt the burn from a wave of negative reviews on Yelp directly tied to the receipt.

After the flood of criticism to the NY restaurant, the manager issued an apology on the restaurant’s Facebook page claiming the employee was terminated and that the situation does not reflect the ethics of the establishment. Sometimes we have limited control over our staff’s better judgement and what they find appropriate. It is important for restaurant operators to make customer service strategies extremely clear upon hiring to ensure a public relations nightmare doesn’t plague your restaurant. As for this restaurant, the sting from the post will be much harder to deal with all based upon one employee’s poor choice.

Hero image courtesy of Business Insider