Yelp and the Florida Pizza Kerfuffle

By now you know what happened. A Florida restaurant owner (Big Apple Pizza) was photographed “bear-hugging” President Obama over the weekend. The registered Republican said he would likely support Obama in the fall.

The story got lots of coverage, mainly because the guy lifted Obama off the ground. But his stated support for Obama started a “flame war” on Yelp, as haters emerged to try and punish the restaurant owner with one-star reviews:

Sympathizes shot back with five-star reviews:

Many of the dozens of politically motivated comments were removed by Yelp’s review filter. But lots of them got through. There was something of a break-down of the system.

I posted about this controversy on Facebook and somebody commented “Yelp is a toxic website.” This remark presumably refers to the snark and vitriol that characterizes many of the reviews on Yelp. One could describe a small but vocal subset of the Yelp Elites as “embittered hipsters.”

Here are my questions:

  • While this case is an outlier, Yelp’s review filter broke down here; should more humans be involved in reviewing content on Yelp?
  • Once you start editing content, however, you get into problem territory and open up to potential liability — as well as charges of censorship.
  • There are still lots of “political” comments on the Big Apple Pizza profile, what should Yelp do with those? Leave them; remove them?

What do you think?

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3 Responses to “Yelp and the Florida Pizza Kerfuffle”

  1. andy says at

    If the restaurant owner’s/employee’s politics affects the quality of food, service and/or cleanliness, the reviews should stay. If not, Yelp should remove them.

  2. Mindy says at

    I agree with Andy. If its obviously political take it of Yelp

  3. Electrician says at

    @Andy you’re joking right?

    It is so very unfortunate that political aspirants would do anything to hurt the livelihood of local businesses. Local businesses are the salt of this earth and shouldn’t be forced out of business by dirty political tricks.

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