Today in people using Yelp for ulterior purposes: After a South Carolina bar owner exercised his legal right to opt out of a law that allows people to carry concealed weapons in bars, the bar's Yelp page has been blasted with one-star reviews from gun fans. Backstreets Pub and Deli posted a sign in their window that reads: "NO CONCEALED WEAPONS ALLOWED If you are such a loser that you feel a need to carry a gun with you when you go out, I do not want your business. Douchebag." A photo of the sign was posted on Twitter, and is now making the viral internet rounds.
And as you can imagine, people who are into carrying guns just love being called douchebags. As of posting, Backstreets has received 665 new Yelp reviews since Monday, most of them one-star rants against the gun sign. (About 100 of those were written in the time it took to write this piece.) This is in addition to 1188 that Yelp actually deemed bad enough to filter out.
First, some background: In February, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a law that allows concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns in bars and restaurants. It's illegal for these people to drink alcohol while they are carrying a gun, and bar/restaurant owners are allowed to ban concealed weapons on their premises. They just have to post a sign. Which Backstreets did:
And the Yelpers are not going to stand for it: "This place Sucks, the food is gross, the owner is a Liberal idiot and the prices are high. I hope you get robbed Libtard," opined Mario G. There's a hell of a lot more where that came from:
Most of the reviews straight up criticize Backstreets for their sign, although some pretend to actually review experiences at the restaurant. "Customer service stinks this place is so rude, and the manager there acted like I was no one so I was a waste of time," wrote Zack A. "How does this place stay open? Rude service, bad drinks," wrote HLC. People are also posting photos of their middle finger on the Yelp page. There are also a number of people posting five-star reviews in an effort to counter-balance the rants.
So, have all these people actually been to Backstreets? Unlikely. Before Monday it had two reviews, one from 2010 and one from 2013, both four stars. The town of Clemson is about 14,000 people; Clemson University adds about 17,000 people during the school year. It's not a huge city. Also, Gawker notes, most of the reviews are written by first time users.
Yelp review sabotage is becoming an increasingly common method of protesting a restaurant. Recently, after an Oklahoma restaurant owner made some homophobic statements, Yelpers pranked him by reviewing his bar as a gay club. Yelpers attacked a Morton's review in Nashville after an incident involving a cancer patient getting kicked out for violating dress code. Neither of these were as intense as the Backstreets case, though. As Gurgling Cod wrote in his analysis of the situation, "Can a restaurant be cyber-bullied? If so, this one sure is."
Some Backstreets reviews complain that Yelp is taking down other reviews, although clearly they aren't keeping up with demand. Yelp has long stood by its filter system, despite the fact that studies show as much as 16% of Yelp reviews are fake.