What Is Review Bombing? How to Combat It?

what is review bombing

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital communication, the phenomenon of review bombing has emerged as a significant challenge for businesses across the globe. This tactic, where large volumes of negative reviews are deliberately posted online to tarnish a brand’s reputation, has seen a marked increase in prevalence.

But why should businesses, from local eateries to multinational corporations, notice this trend? How can they fight it? What are the best strategies? These are the questions NonDetected’s experts will answer in this long read.

Table of Contents

    What Is Review Bombing?

    Review bombing is an orchestrated effort to inundate a business, product, or service with negative reviews. Unlike genuine feedback, these reviews are often unfounded, exaggerated, or entirely fabricated, aimed not at constructive criticism but at causing reputational damage.

    This digital onslaught can significantly skew a business’s rating on review sites, leading to a distorted public perception.

    Examples of Review Bombing Across Various Industries

    The reach of review bombing extends across various sectors, demonstrating that no entity is immune to its effects.

    For instance, the entertainment industry witnessed this firsthand with the release of “The Last Jedi,” where passionate fans expressed their discontent through mass negative ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Similarly, the Epic Games Store faced backlash from gamers displeased with exclusive game launches, resulting in a flood of negative comments and ratings.

    In a more localized context, a family-owned restaurant in a small town became an unintended target of review bombing following a misunderstood social media post. The post, which misconstrued the restaurant’s stance on a social issue, led to hundreds of negative reviews overnight, drastically affecting their business operations and causing emotional distress to the owners.

    These instances underscore the power of review bombing to influence public opinion and the urgent need for businesses to understand and address this phenomenon. The impact of such attacks can extend beyond temporary dips in ratings, affecting customer trust, sales, and in severe cases, the very survival of the business.

    Transitioning from understanding what review bombing entails to exploring strategies to combat it, businesses must arm themselves with knowledge and tools to protect their online reputation.

    The following sections will delve into practical measures and proactive steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects of review bombing, ensuring that the digital reflection of a brand remains as true to reality as possible.

    How Does Review Bombing Affect Businesses?

    The impact of review bombing on a business’s online reputation and customer trust is profound and multifaceted, especially in recent years. At its core, review bombing can drastically skew the perceived quality and reliability of a business, leading potential customers to form negative opinions based on the volume of bad reviews rather than actual experiences or facts.

    Unfortunately, this manipulation of public perception can result in significant financial losses, as customer trust erodes and potential sales vanish.

    A notable real-life consequence of the review bombing occurred with a small, family-owned pizzeria that found itself at the center of a political controversy entirely unrelated to the business itself.

    Misinformation spread rapidly online, leading to hundreds of negative reviews from individuals across the country who had never visited the pizzeria. The immediate effect was a sharp decline in customers, putting the pizzeria’s financial stability at risk and causing emotional distress to the owners who had spent years building their reputation.

    The Amplification of Review Bombing Through Social Media

    review bomb

    In this section, we will focus on how social media works for and against review bombs.

    How Can Social Media Platforms Like TikTok Amplify Review Bombing?

    Social media platforms, with their vast reach and rapid information sharing, can significantly amplify the effects of review bombing. Viral content, whether it’s a tweet, a Facebook post, or a TikTok video, can spread misinformation or negative sentiments about a business at an alarming rate.

    The interactive nature of these platforms also means that a single post can generate a cascade of negative comments, further exacerbating the situation.

    Short Examples

    A case study that illustrates this phenomenon involved a boutique clothing store that became the target of a review bombing following a viral TikTok video. The video, created by a disgruntled customer, misrepresented an incident involving a store employee. Within hours, the video had received thousands of shares, and the store’s review pages on Google and Yelp were flooded with negative ratings from viewers who had never visited the store.

    The rapid spread of the video and the accompanying negative reviews severely damaged the store’s online reputation, leading to a noticeable drop in foot traffic and sales. The store struggled to counteract the misinformation, highlighting the challenges businesses face in managing their online presence in the age of social media.

    These examples underscore the critical need for businesses to actively manage their online reputation score and to be prepared to respond swiftly and strategically to review bombing incidents. The digital age has given rise to new challenges in maintaining a positive public perception, but with the right approach, businesses can face and work against these challenges to protect their reputation against unwarranted attacks.

    Combating Review Bombing: Policies and Practices

    Asking for more positive reviews from your clients is not always the best strategy. We can even surely say that if you are facing a review bomb from competitors or due to other circumstances, there is a high chance that you will not be able to make the same large number of positive reviews, even if you hire specialists to leave reviews.

    In the face of the growing challenge of review bombing, major review platforms have developed policies aimed at protecting businesses and individuals from the unfair impact of these targeted attacks. Understanding these policies is crucial for businesses looking to safeguard their online reputation.

    Do Review Sites Have Policies Against Review Bombing?

    Google, Yelp, and Facebook stand at the forefront of online review platforms and have each taken steps to combat the phenomenon of review bombing. Their policies reflect an understanding of the potential harm caused by orchestrated negative review campaigns and offer a framework for mitigation.

    Google has updated its review policies to better protect businesses after noticing an uptick in review bombing, particularly those criticizing businesses over COVID-19 protocols. Google’s approach involves a combination of human moderation and machine learning algorithms designed to identify and remove reviews that violate its policies.

    However, the sheer volume of reviews and the subtleties of determining intent mean that some illegitimate reviews may slip through the cracks. Businesses are encouraged to report suspicious review activity, with Google providing a process for review and potential removal of these reviews.

    Yelp has also taken a proactive stance against review bombing by implementing a system that alerts their team to unusual review activity. When a spike in reviews is detected, Yelp’s moderators can temporarily disable the ability to post new reviews and place an alert over the business’s review section, informing users that recent reviews may not be based on actual consumer experiences.

    This system aims to prevent the spread of misinformation and protect the integrity of the review page. Yelp commits to “cleaning up” the review section after an attack, striving to preserve only genuine customer feedback.

    Other review sites have similar policies and systems, so we will not cover these review aggregators separately; otherwise, this long read would be much longer.

    Facebook, while not having a specific policy against review bombing, offers businesses the option to disable reviews and recommendations on their page. This can be a temporary measure to stop the influx of negative feedback during a review bombing incident. Businesses can also report multiple FB reviews that violate Facebook’s community standards, although the effectiveness of this approach depends on Facebook’s response times and the clarity of their review guidelines.

    Effectiveness of These Policies

    The effectiveness of these policies varies. While Google and Yelp have made strides in identifying and mitigating review bombing attacks, the reliance on automated systems and the need for manual reporting by businesses mean that not all attacks are prevented or quickly resolved.

    Facebook’s more hands-off approach requires businesses to take the initiative in managing their review sections, which can be a double-edged sword depending on the business’s resources and the severity of the attack.

    Examples of Working with Negative Reviews

    A real-life example of these policies in action can be seen in the case of a local bookstore that became the target of a review bombing campaign following a controversial event. The bookstore’s ratings on Google plummeted overnight due to hundreds of negative reviews from individuals who had never visited the store.

    Upon reporting the suspicious activity to Google, the bookstore saw a gradual removal of the illegitimate reviews, thanks to Google’s policy enforcement. However, the process was not instantaneous, highlighting the challenges platforms face in balancing prompt response with the need for accurate review verification.

    While rating sites have established policies to combat review bombing, the battle against this dirty practice is ongoing. Businesses must remain vigilant, report suspicious activity, and engage with review platforms to protect their online reputation. The development of more sophisticated detection and response mechanisms by review platforms will be crucial in the ongoing fight against review bombing.

    Proactive Measures to Protect Your Business

    In the digital age, where online reviews can significantly impact a business’s reputation and bottom line, taking proactive measures to safeguard against review bombing is essential.

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    Here are strategies and considerations for preventing unwarranted negative reviews and ensuring your business is accurately represented online.

    How Can Businesses Prevent New Reviews from Coming In?

    We will start with the most common strategies and then go a little deeper in the next section.

    Strategies for Temporarily Disabling Reviews on Platforms Like Facebook

    One immediate action businesses can take during a review bombing crisis is to disable reviews on their social media accounts temporarily.

    For example, Facebook allows businesses to turn off the review feature, which can help stop the influx of negative reviews during a targeted attack. This measure can be crucial in preventing further damage to your online reputation while you address the underlying issue.

    The Pros and Cons of Limiting Social Media Interactions During a Review Bombing Crisis

    While disabling reviews can offer temporary relief, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of limiting social media interactions.

    On the positive side, it can allow businesses to strategize and respond to the crisis without escalating the situation. However, it also means cutting off a channel of communication with your customers, which can be perceived as unresponsive or opaque.

    Furthermore, it may not stop determined individuals from spreading negative comments through other platforms or sections of your social media, like posts or direct messages.

    How to Verify the Target of a Review Bomb?

    Oh, this is one of the most common questions in this field, so let’s figure this out.

    Tips for Determining Whether Your Business Is the Actual Target of Review Bombings

    Before responding to a surge in negative reviews, it’s crucial to verify whether your business is indeed the target of a review bomb. Start by analyzing the reviews for common themes or references that may not align with your business’s operations or offerings.

    Look for mentions of specific incidents or individuals that don’t match your records. This can help determine if the negative feedback is genuinely directed at your business or if it’s a case of mistaken identity or malicious targeting.

    The Importance of Fact-Checking and Verifying Information Before Responding

    It is paramount to take the time to fact-check and verify the information in the reviews. Rushing to respond without clearly understanding the situation can lead to missteps that exacerbate the issue.

    For instance, a regional chain of cafes was once mistakenly targeted in a review bombing campaign intended for a single location due to a misunderstanding over a social media post. By carefully reviewing the comments and engaging in dialogue with the online community, the cafe chain clarified the misunderstanding, demonstrating their commitment to accuracy and customer service.

    This not only helped to quell the review bombing but also reinforced their reputation for transparency and responsiveness.

    These are the most common challenges of dealing with review bombers. It requires a balanced approach, combining immediate protective actions with thorough investigation and thoughtful response. By taking proactive steps to manage their social media presence and engaging with their audience with integrity and transparency, businesses can mitigate the impact of review bombing and maintain a positive online reputation.

    Responding to Review Bombing

    Working with the aftermath of a review bombers requires a strategic and measured approach. Deciding whether to make a public statement and identifying false reviews are critical steps in this process.

    Should You Make a Public Statement?

    The decision to address the review bombing with a public statement hinges on several factors. Consider the scale of the attack, the accuracy of the claims within the reviews, and the potential impact on your customer base.

    If the review bombs are based on misinformation or are significantly harming your business’s reputation, a public statement can help clarify the situation and demonstrate your commitment to transparency.

    How to Craft a Public Statement That Mitigates Damage Without Escalating the Situation?

    Your public statement should be factual, concise, and devoid of emotional language that could inflame the situation further. Begin by acknowledging the concerns raised, even if they are unfounded, and express your commitment to customer satisfaction. Provide any factual corrections needed but avoid engaging in blame or disputes.

    As an example, a software company targeted by review bombing due to a misunderstood product update issued a statement explaining the update’s intent, its benefits, and steps for customers to adjust settings if they preferred the old configuration. This addressed the misinformation and showed the company’s proactive approach to customer feedback.

    How to Identify and Flag False Reviews?

    Review bombers often leave clues that can help you identify their reviews. Look for reviews posted in a short timeframe, use of similar language or phrases across multiple reviews, and reviews that lack specific details about the customer’s experience.

    Additionally, reviews that are vague or unrelated to your business’s services or products can be red flags.

    Best Practices for Flagging and Reporting False Reviews to Review Platforms

    Once you’ve identified false reviews, most platforms have a process for flagging and reporting them. Document each review’s URL and the reason why it violates the platform’s guidelines.

    It is important to be specific when reporting why the review should be considered for removal, citing the platform’s policies on false or misleading content. Persistence is key, as platforms may require multiple reports before taking action.

    A real-life example of effective flagging involved a boutique hotel that was the victim of review bombing following a high-profile event. The hotel’s management team meticulously documented each false review, noting the similarities in language and the timing of the posts, which were inconsistent with their booking records.

    By presenting a well-organized case to the review platform, they were able to have the majority of the false reviews removed, gradually restoring their online reputation.

    Hence, responding to review bombing is a delicate balance between defending your business’s reputation and not exacerbating the issue. By carefully considering the need for a public statement and methodically addressing false reviews, businesses can overcome the challenges of review bombs and work towards restoring their standing in the digital marketplace.

    Building a Response Team

    how to fight review bombing

    In the face of a review bombing crisis, having a dedicated response team is crucial for managing the situation effectively and minimizing damage to your business’s online reputation. This team is your first line of defense, tasked with identifying, assessing, and responding to the influx of negative reviews.

    Who Should Be on Your Review Bombing Response Team?

    Your response team should comprise individuals from various departments, each bringing a unique skill set to the table. Key members might include:

    • Social Media Manager: Oversees monitoring of social media platforms for signs of review bombing and coordinates responses.
    • Customer Service Representative: Handles direct communication with affected customers and manages public relations aspects.
    • Legal Advisor: Provides advice on potential legal ramifications and strategies for dealing with false claims.
    • IT Specialist: Assists in identifying the source of the review bombing, particularly if bots or fake accounts are used.
    • PR Specialist: Crafts public statements and communicates with media outlets if necessary.

    How to Train Your Team to Respond Effectively to Review Bombing?

    Training your team involves simulating scenarios to develop quick and effective strategies for different types of review bombing attacks. Emphasize the importance of maintaining a calm and professional demeanor, fact-checking before responding, and adhering to platform guidelines when reporting false reviews. Regular training sessions can help your team stay prepared and responsive.

    Need Professional Help?

    For businesses caught in the crosshairs of a review bombing campaign or those aiming to proactively shield their online presence, the specialized services of NonDetected offer a crucial lifeline. As a leading online reputation management company, NonDetected focuses exclusively on the removal of detrimental content from the internet.

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    Need to Remove Negative Reviews from the Internet?

    Our company provides expert assistance in removing any information from various online platforms and can help you take the necessary steps to protect your online privacy.

    Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and professional support.

    Our expertise lies in swiftly identifying and eliminating false online user reviews that can tarnish your business’s reputation, offering a direct and effective solution to one of the most pressing challenges with review bombs.

    Please note, NonDetected’s approach is singularly focused on removing reviews, providing businesses with a clear path to safeguarding their online reputation. We cannot stop new reviews, so you better take this part under your control or hire other agencies who specialize in this field.

    By partnering with us, you benefit from our deep understanding of the intricacies of online platforms and our proven strategies for successful content removal. This targeted intervention can significantly mitigate the impact of review bombing, allowing your business to maintain its integrity and customer trust in the digital realm.

    In the battle for your business’s reputation, knowledge, swift action, and the focused expertise of NonDetected are your most effective allies.

    Long-term Strategies for Reputation Management

    To build resilience against review bombing and safeguard your online reputation, a comprehensive, long-term strategy is essential.

    The Role of Ongoing Customer Engagement and Soliciting Genuine Reviews

    Engaging with your customers regularly and encouraging them to leave genuine reviews can create a solid foundation of positive feedback that dilutes the impact of any bad reviews.

    For instance, a local bookstore regularly featured customer reviews on its social media accounts, fostering a community of engaged and supportive customers. When the bookstore faced a review bombing attack, these loyal customers were quick to counteract the negative reviews with their positive experiences, helping to stabilize the bookstore’s ratings.

    Implementing a Comprehensive Online Reputation Management Strategy

    A well-rounded online reputation management strategy includes monitoring your digital presence across all platforms, responding promptly to customer feedback, and updating your content regularly to reflect your business’s values and quality of service.

    Additionally, leveraging SEO techniques to ensure positive content ranks highly in search results can further protect your reputation.

    For example, a boutique hotel implemented a strategy that included regularly updating its website with customer testimonials and engaging content about the guest experience. This improved their SEO rankings and meant that potential customers would first encounter positive, authentic narratives about the hotel, making it more resilient to the effects of any future review bombing.

    So, preparing for and responding to review bombing requires a proactive approach, from assembling a dedicated response team to implementing long-term reputation management strategies.

    By fostering genuine customer relationships and maintaining a robust online presence, businesses can not only withstand the challenges of review bombing but also thrive in the digital marketplace.


    Understanding the complexities of the process to prevent review bombing can significantly impact a business’s online reputation, of course, on the positive side.

    As we’ve explored, the key to managing such challenges lies in a proactive approach—understanding the nature of review bombing, implementing strategies to prevent it, and responding effectively when it occurs.

    The real-life examples highlighted throughout this article underscore the potential severity of review bombing attacks and the importance of preparedness in safeguarding your business’s digital presence.

    And, always remember, in case you are willing to remove online content, you can always count on NonDetected professionals.

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