Google Maps Will Give You 1TB Of Free Storage In Exchange For Restaurant Reviews

Google Maps Will Give You 1TB Of Free Storage In Exchange For Restaurant Reviews

What’s a technology company trying to break into the restaurant review game to do when not enough people are willing to submit restaurant reviews? If you’re Google, you give out a bunch of free storage.

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Internet Giants Come Out In Support Of Municipal Broadband

Internet Giants Come Out In Support Of Municipal Broadband

Nearly half the states in the U.S. have laws that ban or severely limit cities and counties from operating broadband networks or from selling that service directly to consumers. This week, a trade group representing the biggest names on the Internet — Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, reddit, Yelp, among others — came out in support of breaking down these anti-consumer barriers. [More]

Jennifer Moo

Things Are Looking Up For Federal Law Banning “Gag Clauses” That Prevent Customers From Writing Honest Reviews

While most companies understand that honest negative feedback is, at worst, an inevitability of doing business, and maybe even a chance to improve, some companies try to use non-disparagement, or “gag,” clauses that use threats of legal action or financial penalties to prevent customers from writing or saying anything negative about that business — even if what’s being said is 100% true. We’ve seen these in everything from cheapo cellphone accessories, to wedding contractors, to hotels, to dentists, to weight-loss products, to apartment complexes. California recently enacted a law banning this sort of behavior, and some courts have deemed these clauses unenforceable, but there is still no nationwide consensus on their legality. Previous attempts to create a federal ban on gag clauses have been dead on arrival at Capitol Hill, but the latest effort appears to have some life to it. [More]

Privacy Advocates Concerned As Senate Approves Controversial Cybersecurity Bill

Privacy Advocates Concerned As Senate Approves Controversial Cybersecurity Bill

Despite previous failures, Congress just keeps on churning through bills that propose to enhance digital security at the cost of digital privacy. The latest in the series sailed through the Senate with wide approval this week, kicking off another wave of privacy concerns.

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(Paula S)

Restaurant Critic Rails Against “Stupid And Broken” Star-Rating System

We’ve said before that star ratings for restaurants are often arbitrary and may not be an accurate representation of the review’s content or of other diners’ standards. You might think that critics who get paid to give such ratings would defend the practice, but at least one of them has come out swinging against the stars, bells, and other dingbats he and his fellow reviewers are often compelled to use. [More]

(Hulya Ozkok)

Judge: Ranting Yelp Reviewer Must Pay Contractor $1,000

It’s one thing to go online and rant about a business that you’ve dealt with, exercising your right to free speech and warning other consumers away from dealing with that company. The problem, one woman in New York City learned, comes when you accuse the enterprise of actual crimes, using words like “scam” and “fraud,” and the company notices. [More]

Google provided this example of what its new services ad function will look like.

Google Adds Paid Home Service Provider Suggestions To Search Results For “Clogged Toilet,” “Plumber”

Less than a year after Amazon took on the likes of Angie’s List, Yelp and other companies that can connect consumers to professional service providers like plumbers, locksmiths, electricians and others, Google announced it would join the fray by adding prescreened service providers to its sponsored search results. [More]

(imgur)

Yellowstone Visitors Ask The Park To Please Train Bears To Hang Out Where Humans Can See Them

Who needs Yelp for government parks and services when you can just leave a comment card? While it’s quite normal to be disappointed at not seeing any animals on a visit to Yellowstone National Park, the thing is, there’s no guarantee of seeing wild animals, being that they’re, well, wild, and they do as they please. But that didn’t stop park guests from politely asking rangers to point some bears in the right direction.

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You Can Now Rate And Review U.S. Government Services On Yelp

You Can Now Rate And Review U.S. Government Services On Yelp

The wait time to get customer support from the Internal Revenue Service is stretching on into infinity. The Transportation Security Administration agents at one particular airport checkpoint always seem to have it out for you. There’s one particular bathroom at Yellowstone National Park that is the best and everyone should know about it. Whatever your experience with U.S. government services, you can now review it on Yelp.

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Federal Judge Applies Common Sense, Decides Yelp Reviewers Are Not Employees

Federal Judge Applies Common Sense, Decides Yelp Reviewers Are Not Employees

Last year, we shared the news that a group of Yelp reviewers whose accounts had been deactivated were suing the website for back wages. The ex-reviewers claimed that they had performed the functions of an employee, with guidance and critique from Yelp management, by providing content that the site could sell ads against. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed the case last week [More]

(photo: colonelchi)

A Year After Restaurant Owner Asked Me To Change Yelp Review, Things Got Weird

You may remember reader Mark, who left a bad Yelp review for a local tavern back in 2013, then received a request from the business’s new owner asking him to change or remove the review. Mark declined. That was a year ago: the owner apparently went through his Yelp inbox recently to rage at correspondents. Here is our gift to small business owners: another cautionary tale about how not to handle your online presence. [More]

An example of the new statistics users can find for health facilities on Yelp. [via Yelp]

Yelp Adds Hospital Wait Times, Nursing Home Fine Info To Reviews

When a trip to the emergency room is in order, you’re usually in a hurry, because, after all, it’s an emergency. Sitting around waiting to be seen by a doctor can be an agonizing experience for those in need of quick help. While Yelp can’t hurry along those doctors, it can apparently tell you just how long you might expect to be camped out in the hospital E.R. [More]

(Photos in the Sunset)

Suspect In Mall Pretzel Stand Robbery Hides Out In Same Mall’s Chili’s

Last night, something scary happened at the Macomb mall in Michigan: a man passed a pretzel stand employee a note demanding cash and stating that he had a gun. The employee handed over cash, and the robber left on foot. Police and mall security didn’t have to look very far, it turns out… they spotted the suspect at a standalone Chili’s restaurant that shares a parking lot with the mall. [More]

Sybren Stüvel

Nearly 70% Of Consumers Rely On Online Reviews Before Making A Purchase

Everyone has an opinion, and nowadays most people are willing to share it; for better or worse. So it shouldn’t be surprising then – what with the sheer number of outlets available in which consumers can express their feeling about products and services – that nearly seven-in-ten consumers actually base their purchases on the digital recommendations of strangers. [More]

Lawmakers Propose Bill To Prevent Businesses From Suing You For Complaining About Them

Lawmakers Propose Bill To Prevent Businesses From Suing You For Complaining About Them

Most of the time, consumer interactions with businesses go just fine. We give a company our money, they provide us with goods or services, and everyone is happy. But sometimes, things go awry. The customer isn’t happy, the business doesn’t make it right, and we complain: not just to the business, but to Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp. And that, too often, is when the story starts to get even uglier.

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Yelp Reportedly Testing The Merger Market

Yelp Reportedly Testing The Merger Market

Yelp might still be the most recognizable name in crowdsourced online reviews, but it may be hitting a wall in terms of audience growth as it faces increasing competition; all the while, the company’s stock price remains less than half of what it used to be. All of this might explain why the company is reportedly looking to find a buyer for its multibillion-dollar business. [More]

New Law Would Ban Companies From Penalizing Customers Who Write Negative Reviews

New Law Would Ban Companies From Penalizing Customers Who Write Negative Reviews

For the last couple of years, we’ve been telling you about ridiculous, so-called “non-disparagement” clauses that threaten customers with financial penalties for writing (or threatening to write, or even encouraging someone else to write) something negative online about a company. California has already outlawed these clauses, which tend to fail when challenged in court, but an attempt to enact legislation at the federal level has so far fallen short. But that’s not stopping some members of Congress from trying to ban this form of consumer bullying. [More]

Court Dismisses Yelp Shareholder Lawsuit Over Bogus Reviews, Inflated Stock Prices

Court Dismisses Yelp Shareholder Lawsuit Over Bogus Reviews, Inflated Stock Prices

Last summer, some Yelp shareholders filed a class-action lawsuit against the online review site, alleging that Yelp misled them about the quality of user-generated reviews and the process Yelp uses to screen for bogus write-ups. This week, a federal court judge sided with Yelp and dismissed the complaint, saying that a reasonable investor would not believe that every review posted to an open and free online community would be genuine. [More]