Yelp Taken Over after President Obama’s Visit to Florida Pizzeria

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Local Business Review Site 5StarControl makes a stand on people using Yelp to make political statements about a Florida pizzeria, which recently hosted a visit by President Obama.

5StarControl has concerns over politically motivated reviews posted on Yelp after a visit by President Barack Obama to a Florida pizzeria.

Local Business Review Site 5StarControl wrote that local businesses might be affected by reviewers who use Yelp to express political opinions or misplaced dissatisfaction or praise via reviews. This stance comes in light of the recent visit by President Obama to Big Apple Pizza in Florida and the resulting reviews on Yelp as explained by Search Engine Land.

Yelp has risen to the top of the heap in the local online review industry. Currently with more than 78 million individual users every month, Yelp is one of the most-used online review services in the United States. Unlike sites such as Angie’s List or OpenTable, anyone can post a review on Yelp, whether they have been to the establishment or not. While Yelp has an algorithmic filter designed to keep out obviously biased or fake reviews, there is some question over the authenticity and relevance of both good and bad Yelp reviews.

The center of the current controversy, Big Apple Pizza is a local chain of pizza and Italian restaurants in and around Vero Beach, Florida. Began more than 25 years ago by the Lino family, Big Apple Pizza now boasts 11 franchise locations. The particular restaurant in question is located in Fort Pierce, Florida, and is owned and operated by Scott Van Duzer, who got permission from the Secret Service to give President Obama a bear hug.

Incumbent President Barack Obama is in the midst of a tough re-election campaign. The presidency was the culmination of a meteoric political ascension for Obama. The 51 year old burst onto the national stage in 2004 with his victory in the election for the United States Senate. This fame propelled Obama to run for president in 2008, capturing the presidency against Republican opponent John McCain. The nation’s first African-American president, Obama’s first term saw a monumental overhaul of the health care system, but a slow economy has put his re-election hopes in doubt as he fights a close and contentious campaign against Mitt Romney.

The fact that people have turned to Yelp as an outlet for their political opinions highlights the popularity of Yelp, and the notion that people are directly affected by online reviews. However, local businesses should be concerned that Yelp has allowed so many reviews to pass through its filters, despite not commenting directly on the business itself. 5StarControl stated, "In a world where just a half star change in company’s rating can sink a business, it is worrying for small businesses that the Yelp reviews of their business may not have anything to with their services, only with their politics."

5StarControl is a website covering local business issues regarding online review sites.

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