Over the past few days I have been seeing an enormous number of complaints in the various forums that the reviews within ones Google Places listing have been removed. Yes, Google Maps reviews have gone missing.
But this time it has to do with a Google Maps reviews spam update.
Google Maps representative, Vanessa, said in a Google Places Help thread and Google Maps Help thread that the reason for all the reviews going away was because Google pushed out a Maps reviews spam filter. Vanessa explained:
We've noticed a lot of posts in the forum here these past 48 hours about missing reviews on Place pages. Thanks so much for sending in these reports, we're looking into it! Please leave any additional feedback here.
Some things to keep in mind in the mean time:
There are many reasons why a review may not appear on a Place page. We're constantly working to make sure our reviews are legit and high-quality. And so to do this, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews (ones that we find to be spammy or abusive). Some of you guys may be experiencing these review takedowns. Sometimes our systems may remove legitimate reviews in our effort to cut down on the abuse, but overall we believe these measures are for the good of presenting quality reviews on Google.
Like any spam prevention mechanism, it is not perfect and Google will improve it over time. I have seen reports of reviews coming back into the system since the initial reports of some of the reviews have missing.
Update: Joel from Google informed me after careful review it is not a spam filter. He said, "I have confirmed that this isn't a spam issue. It's a problem on our end we're actively working to fix."