Trolls Are Posting Porn to the Red Hen’s Yelp Page

Yelp says it’s trying to clean up the page, but much of the harassment and graphic imagery is still up.

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Jun 26 2018, 5:10pm

Image via Shutterstock / Composition by Samantha Cole

Note: Some images in this article are NSFW.

Last weekend, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, backed up by President Donald Trump, sent an angry Yelp mob after a restaurant that asked her to leave on moral grounds. Now, the reviews have turned to literal shit, with images of poop and anal porn.

For several days, people have been trashing the The Red Hen’s Yelp page for telling Sanders to take her cheese plate and defense of toddler jails and leave, tanking its star rating and bombarding its reviews with harassment against the owner. Yelp told me in an email on Monday that it’s trying to moderate and clean up the page manually, but it doesn’t seem to be working: Angry Yelpers have moved from Trumper memes and images supporting Sanders, to posting pictures of piles of feces, dead animals and insects, and a hardcore porn scene.

User “Bobby R.” uploaded a recording of his computer monitor playing a graphic video of anilingus. That video was uploaded on Monday and is still up on Tuesday.

A Yelp spokesperson told me in an email on Monday that the platform is in the process of reviewing the page:

“Media-fueled reviews typically violate our Content Guidelines, one of which deals with relevance. Yelp reviews are required to describe a firsthand consumer experience, not what someone read in the news. Our user support team ultimately removes reviews that violate these guidelines.”

As of writing, many of those “media-fueled” reviews are still up, and users are still posting comments irrelevant to the actual restaurant—meaning Yelp hasn’t locked the page altogether. A support page for news-related reviews says that removals kick in “over the course of the week after the issue is brought to our attention.”

Yelp built itself into the go-to platform for reviews on local businesses. Millions of people use it every month, and instead of standalone websites, many businesses just have a page hosted on Yelp. Since a business owner can’t have a Yelp listing without opening themselves up to an unfiltered comment section and star-rating system, how a business ranks on Yelp can determine whether it can keep the doors open.

By not aggressively moderating harassment on Yelp, it’s joining plenty of other platforms that created a home for users—and often, a real financial dependency on the platform—and then screwing it up by not taking care of those users.