What we can learn from Yelp’s WOM whitewashing debate

March 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Ethics | 1 Comment
Tags: Ethics, negative review, social media, the law, ugc, WOM, yelp

Coming hot on the heels of Tempero‘s eGuide UGC and the Law (which WOM UK contributed to and debated at the launch), the news that a veterinary practice in California is suing consumer review site Yelp for allegedly offering to hide a bad post for payment made us prick up our ears.

As reported by The Times, Greg Perrault of the Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital in Long Beach claims that he asked Yelp to take down a negative review posted 18 months before – outside the site’s 12-month relevancy guideline – and was in turn invited to advertise on the boards for $300 a year.

Of course, if this were true, it would represent some seriously unethical, as well as illegal, moderation of consumer conversation for financial gain. However, Yelp’s defence on their official blog is thorough and clear, and all the more believable because it emphasises the importance of trust for the company: people’s belief that the reviews they publish are legitimate and fairly regulated is what keeps businesses and punters invested in the site.

What we find particularly interesting is Dr Perrault’s failure to address the content of the negative post. He did not respond to the facts or fictions of that 18-month old moan, nor did he say that he was looking at how to improve the surgery’s service to prevent similar comments, or reach out to other customers in a more positive way.

Whatever the courts decide, this story reflects the panic that businesses feel when faced with negative conversation, and their inability to know how to handle it, apart from trying to get that often valuable WOM removed from the public domain.

If you want help in understanding how you can engage with disgruntled consumers in a rather more productive way – for them and for you – get in touch and we’ll introduce you to our raft of expert members and educational events touching on just these issues.

In the meantime, check out the eGuide to know where you stand legally in the UK with moderation of UGC.

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Do you know the score with UGC and the law?

February 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Ethics, Events | 1 Comment
Tags: internet law, moderation, social meida law, tempero, ugc, wom uk

Companies used to carefully controlled brand imagery and tone of voice can find user generated content a very scary thing. Our discussions with companies, journalists and agencies have shown that there’s lots of confusion as to where the boundaries lie in terms of moderation, engagement and the legal rights around content created by people about and around a brand.

That’s why WOM UK is delighted to be contributing to ‘UGC and the Law’, a new eGuide produced by community experts Tempero:

“We believe our eGuide is the first time anyone’s pulled together the range of UK guidance out there on which laws might impact social media activity that involves brands hosting or submitting content to interactive environments into a handy little book format.

The guide is aimed at brands and public sector organizations about to start or already running their own sites (like forums, blog comments) or branded pages (like Facebook, YouTube), and includes quotes, anecdotes, and advice from some of our clients and contacts in the industry.”

President of WOM UK Molly Flatt has added her comments on the complexities of legislating free speech, and how the UK can learn from the debates around the FTC Guidelines recently released in the US. Molly will be attending the launch of the eGuide at the Tempero offices in central London tomorrow, Wednesday 23rd February, from 6.30pm, answering questions on the issue and debating with other speakers such as John Robinson from the NHS and Paul Wakely from the BBC.

If you’re interested in coming along book your place here.

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