A few weeks ago fellow TSA crusader Jim Bovard told me that there were all these TSA reviews on Yelp. I was surprised, given that I think of Yelp only in terms of hotel, restaurant, and other business reviews. He gave me a link to reviews of the TSA at Chicago O’Hare (ORD), but I soon discovered that there are several different pages of Yelp TSA reviews.
So I posted one, under the name “Lisa S.”
Yesterday I got an email from Yelp headquarters saying this:
JAN 15, 2016 | 11:07AM PST
Hi Lisa,We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed your review of TSA – Transportation Security Administration. Our Support team has determined that it falls outside our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because it represents a conflict of interest.When reviewing, you should focus on businesses that you interact with as a customer, and not post reviews of businesses that you engage with as part of your own business.We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp while keeping our Content Guidelines in mind.
I’m the editor and chief writer at a civil liberties watchdog site called TSA News (tsanewsblog dot com). I’ve been keeping tabs on this agency since 2009, so I’m not going to repeat here excerpts from the thousands of posts my colleagues and I have written. Suffice to say the TSA is an out-of-control, criminal agency that abuses people with impunity. Readers can click on over to read more if they’re interested.
The Yelp Support Team
San Francisco, California
Hi, Yelp. What a pity. And what a mistake. I don’t run a business that has anything to do with the TSA. The writing I do at TSA News is UNPAID. All volunteer. But hey, no biggie. I’ll just create a fake identity and re-post my review.
The TSA is an out-of-control, criminal agency that abuses people with impunity.
JAN 15, 2016 | 02:00PM PST
Hi Lisa,We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed all of your reviews of TSA. Our Support team has determined that they fall outside our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because they appear to represent a conflict of interest.We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp while keeping our Content Guidelines in mind.
Now, think about it: Yelp publishes millions of reviews. They come in from all over the world. How can the Yelp team possibly keep tabs on every single one, unless somebody flags a comment or somehow calls it to their attention?
Given that the TSA routinely censors comments on its blog, as we’ve pointed out with evidence so many times, I don’t find it hard to believe that the agency is also keeping tabs on Yelp reviews. Of course I don’t know this for a fact; it’s impossible for me to know. I’m speculating based on the TSA’s behavior at its own blog, a place that is ostensibly set up explicitly for public feedback.
How pathetic that this powerful, multi-billion-dollar agency is so afraid of criticism. (And by the way, I’m not the only one who’s noticed that something fishy is going on at Yelp.)