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Brooklyn Yogurt Shop Sting Snares Fake Reviewers For NY Attorney General 168

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that nineteen companies caught writing fake reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local and CitySearch have been snared in a year-long sting operation by the New York Attorney General and will pay $350,000 in penalties. The Attorney General's office set up a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn, New York, and sought help from firms that specialize in boosting online search results to combat negative reviews. Search optimization companies offered to post fake reviews of the yogurt shop, created online profiles, and paid as little as $1 per review to freelance writers in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe. To avoid detection the companies used 'advanced IP spoofing techniques' to hide their true identities. 'This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution,' said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. 'More than 100 million visitors come to Yelp each month, making it critical that Yelp protect the integrity of its content,' said Aaron Schur, Yelp's Senior Litigation Counsel."

Organics Can't Match Conventional Farm Yields 452

scibri writes "A comprehensive analysis published in Nature (abstract) suggests that organic farming could supply needs in some circumstances. But yields are lower than in conventional farming, so producing the bulk of the globe's diet will still require chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The meta-analysis reviewed 66 studies comparing the yields of 34 different crop species in organic and conventional farming systems. The researchers included only studies that assessed the total land area used, allowing them to compare crop yields per unit area. Many previous studies that have showed large yields for organic farming ignore the size of the area planted — which is often bigger than in conventional farming. Crop yields from organic farming are as much as 34% lower than those from comparable conventional farming practices, though in some cases, notably with strawberries and soybeans, the gap is as small as 3%."

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