Modern businesses depend on review sites. In particular, restaurants often live and die by reviews on Yelp and other popular review sites because internet “critics” are any given customer. Some people (I’m one of them) use review sites almost exclusively when deciding on new places to go eat.
Cafe 8 1/2 in Honolulu learned the hard way that getting political can be bad even if your particular message happens to be popular in your area. Donald Trump didn’t win Hawaii, but that didn’t stop a ton of Trump supporters from bashing the Italian restaurant on Yelp after they posted an idiotic sign on on their front door:
As reported by the Washington Examiner:
Cafe 8 1/2, an Italian restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii, received hundreds of complaints on its Yelp page Tuesday after posting a sign on its front door that banned those who voted for President-elect Trump from eating at the establishment.
“If you voted for Trump you cannot eat here! No Nazis,” the handmade, yellow sign stated.
Hundreds of Trump supporters wrote on the restaurant’s Yelp, Facebook and Google pages complaining about the political statement, while others criticized the food and environment.
Since the news broke, Yelp has been flooded with negative reviews (and a few positive ones in an effort to counter the effects). This makes people feel good that they’re speaking out about poor practices, but here’s the thing. It doesn’t work. Yelp was quick to jump in and work on fixing the problem.
In our super-connected world, it’s easy for people to take a stand for or against a particular business or individual based upon their political opinions. Using review sites to hurt a business will invariably lead to very little actually happening to that business. That’s not to say people shouldn’t speak out. There are better places to do it other than review sites. Social media, blogs, local publications, and online forums are much better for these activities because they’re much less likely to be censored.
Before anyone complains about censorship by Yelp, it’s important to remember that they are a site dedicated to reviews based upon quality of services or businesses made by people who have actually experienced them. It’s their site and if they choose to remove reviews from people they don’t feel actually ever visited the establishment, that’s their prerogative.
Voice your opinions. Just do it in places where they can have a real impact. Yelp and other review sites aren’t those places.