Social Media Analysis: Use of review sites for personal criticism

‘Social Media Analysis: Use of review sites for personal criticism’ analyzes the abuse of review sites for personal beliefs and opinions. 

The common belief among marketers is that ‘Customer is king’. This belief has gotten stronger and more entrenched over the years with the inception of the Internet and specifically Social Media sites. The Internet generally has given the consumer the ultimate power over the brand or company. In this era, whenever an individual is hoping to make an investment on a product or service they look it up on the Internet. Constant research before a purchase has made the consumer more knowledgeable.

Recently, Google stated the importance of ‘Micro moments’ on their first Live Keynote on Google Adwords and the GDN for the first quarter of 2015. They further stressed that; with the staggering growth of Internet users and their tendency towards researching through the Google Search has enabled Google to identify buyer behaviors and their moments;

  • Want-to-know-moments
  • Want-to-go-moments
  • Want-to-do-moments
  • Want-to-buy-moments

The center point of any researching consumer is ‘Review sites’. The top sources for reviews are Google Reviews and Yelp. These two sites have over million listings on their sites, where customers can freely express and share their opinions and experiences about a specific product/ brand or service.

Recently there was a huge buzz around a local Zimbabwean lion called ‘Cecil’, who was hunted by an American tourist named Dr Walter J Palmer, a dentist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, US. He killed the famed lion on July 1 in Zimbabwe with the help of a few locals. It is being reported that the Lion (Cecil- 13) was lured away from the national park and later killed by him. The officials revealed the killer information earlier this week, which made many people all around the world  criticize the Doctor heavily through Social media. Following is the letter Dr. Palmer sent his patients.

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Dr. Palmer’s company- River Bluff Dental has listings on both Google and Yelp. People who were against his actions has taken their personal rage to these review sites. Instead of real reviews about River Bluff Dental and its services, people have posted personal criticisms like; “You killed a beautiful creature and in the process have become America’s most hated. I’m so glad everyone recognizes what a waste of space you are and that everyone is coming to Cecil’s defense.”

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Regardless the reviews on Google, Yelp seems to have a different approach; Yelp has a policy where they only feature credible and original reviews relating to the business. The policy states as follows;

“We get millions of reviews from our users, and we try to showcase the ones that best reflect the opinions of the Yelp community. The remaining reviews are accessible from a link at the bottom of each business’s profile page, but they don’t factor into a business’s overall star rating or review count. This approach is very different from other sites that tend to feature rants and raves from anyone and everyone. We do our best to nurture a community of users who actively contribute reliable and useful content.”

Yelp has continuously removed many personal criticisms towards the River Bluff Dental. But people haven’t stopped posting, some have posted more two times. Following is a personal criticism comment made by an angry animal activist;

“Yelp is censoring opinions and protecting not only  a sexual predator and a sad excuse for a human being in general but an over privileged rich jerk who would selfishly waste 50k to kill a majestic creature than actually put that money to good use. Nice job yelp. Delete all you want, everyone will keep putting bad reviews up. Don’t you get the world has spoken? Let it speak before it speaks against your censorship! “

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On a similar note, in 2013 a small bakery in Oregon, US called Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery was sued by a lesbian couple because the co-owner of the bakery has refused to provide them with a wedding cake. That is because the co-owner has believed that the couple’s union was an “abomination unto the lord. However, this ended the bakery being permanently closed and having to pay up $150,000 to the lesbian couple. Again the angry humanitarians took their rage upon the tab in Google reviews dishonouring the Bakery for the owner’s personal religious beliefs.

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Another story was reported,  where a Virginia woman (Jane Perez) is in the process of being sued for $750,000 for allegedly writing a bad review of a company on Yelp. Christopher Dietz, the owner of the company, is suing her for defamation. He owns a seven-year-old construction company that previously held a good reputation. In the woman’s Yelp review, she allegedly claims that the company charged her for work not done, damaged her home and stole her jewelry. Dietz requests $300,000 for lost work opportunities, insult, mental suffering, anxiety and harm to the company’s reputation done by the woman’s negative review. The plaintiff and defendant are rumored to be high school classmates.

The Internet is a powerful tool for customers and businesses to interact seamlessly. However, both parties should understand the core existence of certain sites or apps. Specifically on the above mentioned cases, the review sites are dedicated for “reviews” about the services and products a business offer not for personal criticism.

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