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Google Temporarily Disables Reviews; Yelp Updates Policies in Light of COVID-19

Both Google My Business and Yelp have made updates to their review and support policies in light of recent events surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This week, Google announced that there will be limited functionality of Google My Business during the COVID-19 outbreak. “Our current focus is on the quality and reliability of information on Google Search and Maps,” Google writes. “We want to ensure users and business owners have access to essential features like whether the business is open or has special hours.”

Google indicates that new reviews, review replies, and all Q&A will be unavailable during this time.

The changes that Google has made appear to be part of a larger effort to combat false or misleading information related to COVID-19.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, addressed the issue in a recent blog post.

“On YouTube, we’ve taken down thousands of videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information, and we continue to remove videos that promote medically unproven methods to prevent coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment,” Pichai writes. “On Google Maps, our automated and manual review systems continue to take down false and harmful content such as fake reviews and misleading information about healthcare locations.”

Meanwhile, Yelp has also made changes to its reviews policies to reflect the current situation with Coronavirus. The company has implemented special review content guidelines in an effort to protect the reputations of local businesses during the outbreak.

“For example, we have zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances,” Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman writes. “Reviews flagged by the community will be evaluated by our human content moderators to ensure they comply with our content guidelines, including reflecting a first-hand experience. Content that does not meet these standards will be removed and not count toward a business’s star rating.”

This is a developing story. We’ll provide you with more information as it becomes available.

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