Yelp has received several complaints after users realized it has been cleaning up poor reviews posted on an Oakland coffee shop's business page after its involvement in a controversy that made headlines last month.
Hasta Muerte Coffee shop in Oakland’s Fruitvale district has been under fire since it announced it will not serve officers in uniform and has since suffered on Yelp.
A photo posted to the employee-owned co-op’s Instagram read, "Talk to your neighbors, not the police." The post continues about an exchange with a uniformed police officer on Feb. 16, and very clearly states: "We have a policy of asking police to leave for the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves."
The sergeant who was turned away from the shop last month said he was surprised but walked out without incident and without any coffee.
After the incident, Yelp reportedly cleaned up reviews that focused on the news and not the actual coffee shop, and this has caused people to get angry.
One of the posts from Ticha B. in Los Angeles saysL
"Repost from 3 days ago, Yelp deleted my original comment on 3/13/2018 and 3/14/2018.
When you serve weak coffee and you also bring bias policies and views towards anyone (professional or not), you shouldn't be in business.
Hasta Muerte isn't uniting the community like they say they are, but creating a complicated situation that is already diving the Bay Area and California!
Once again Yelp deleted my comment from last week"
"Media-fueled reviews typically violate our Content Guidelines, one of which deals with relevance," said Yelp spokesperson, Anna Paladini. "For example, reviews aren't the place for rants about a business's employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don't address the core of the consumer experience."
Paladini said that Yelp acknowledges that when a local business makes headlines or does something controversial, their business page can be affected. However, she claims that "Yelp reviews are required to describe a firsthand consumer experience, not what someone read in the news," and their "user support team ultimately removes reviews that violate these guidelines."
Yelp users are encouraged to join Yelp Talk, a discussion forum, where they are free to post any and all thoughts about the latest media controversy rather than posting ratings and reviews that are "disconnected from an actual firsthand customer experience," Paladini said.
She said Yelp will continue to remove contect that violates their terms of service including review that only "attack a business' ideologies."