Recently Yelp was hit with a class action lawsuit for defamatory and fake bad restaurant reviews. Although the lawsuit was dismissed, the plaintiffs claimed that Yelp would post bad reviews of businesses not purchasing $500/month advertising on Yelp. Much of the discussion was about Yelp's algorithm to automatically identify and filters out reviews that need to be filtered out.
I am wondering whether those posting bad reviews were really associated with Yelp (as the plaintiffs believe), or instead an independent mob organization. Indeed, how could a social recommendation website handle the following scenario (using ad-hoc fraud detection techniques):
For now, I believe this new extortion business model is not easily scalable - less than click fraud at least. So I don't think the mob will quickly integrate it in its business operations, not until they figure out a way to efficiently scale it, possibly using Botnets or trained workers in India or Romania. Yet it could attract a large number of newly graduates as they can't find a job that pays back their student loan, or some highly skilled laid-off workers who have been unemployed for a long time. For a fresh smart graduate, it could wok like this:
If only 100 people implement this idea, then about 50,000 businesses (those most likely to pay extortion fees) would be impacted by these bad reviews.