Small Business News

Google Has Been Letting Anonymous People Review Businesses

Online reviews are a hot button issue right now, particularly as one case involving Yelp reviews has attracted some media attention. You can read about that here. Basically, a woman was sued for defaming remarks, as she claimed in reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List that a contractor had stolen jewelry from her, which she has so far been unable to prove. She was initially ordered to change her reviews, but the Virginia Supreme Court overturned that decision, indicating that a jury would have to find her guilty before the reviews would be required to be removed.

As WebProNews readers have indicated in various comments, a lot of business owners feel that the reviews shouldn’t be allowed to remain up, as the business stands to lose potential customers as a result, which of course, is the basis of the suit to begin with.

Accountability for online reviews is a big issue for businesses who face damage to their reputations. Google recognizes this, and last year, when they moved to the Google+ Local model for local search, the company was supposed to have started requiring users to be signed into their Google accounts, which would be accompanied by their names/profiles, to post reviews. This would ensure accountability for what is said in these reviews.

Upon trying to write a business review while logged out of Google, I am personally prompted to sign in.

However, Google appears to still be letting anonymous reviews through. Instead of the reviewers name, it may say “A Google User”.

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a Google Business Help thread, where a business owner complains about this problem:

About five weeks ago we started asking our patients to write reviews about us and our practice in our Google+ Local page (https://plus.google.com/101314730224126339952/about?hl=en sorry, I don’w know why but I can’t embed the link). We only have one page as Google already merged our Google Places and previous Google+ page.

We have noticed than some reviews appear to be written as “A Google User” instead of displaying the actual name of the review’s author.

Does anybody know why this is happening? As far as I know there’s no way for google users to ask to post a review anonymously.

I’m concerned about this as positive anonymous reviews are sometimes perceived as spam or false reviews, damaging our reputation.

Google’s Jade Wang responds in the thread, saying, “Thanks, all — we are investigating.”

The response was from yesterday. The anonymous reviews are still showing:

A Google User

Schwartz also notes that this has been happening for months.

In the thread, one user says Google may show “A Google User” for reviews that were created before the changes, but they shouldn’t be displaying this way for reviews that recent. Wang’s acknowledgement seems to suggest that Google will fix this.

Luckily for this particular business, these particular reviews are positive.

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