It just got real
You’re likely familiar with the various lawsuits filed by businesses against competitors or angry consumers posting Yelp reviews filled with untruths, and they’ve gotten messy, involving higher courts overturning decisions and a lot of back and forth.
After having cracked down on fake reviews, Yelp is stepping it up a notch, starting with using a small bankruptcy law firm, alleging they filled their profile with fake reviews, according to Ars Technica.
In a clear effort to clean up their review offering, Yelp is taking a hard stance against fake reviews, be they negative reviews posted by competitors or positive reviews paid for or posted by companies on their own Yelp listing.
The new suit claims the employees of the law firm posed as clients to improve their company’s profile on Yelp, claiming that one employee used an email address with the firm’s URL to register his yelp account, giving the firm a perfect rating and leaving a comment simply stating “exceeded expectations.”
Another employee allegedly created a Yelp profile with the only activities associated with the profile being positive reviews on the firm’s profile. The employee said the firm offered a “pain-free bankruptcy experience,” further stating, “I am now back on my feet again financially thanks to the firm.”
The same person allegedly wrote about how the firm held her hand through her financial problems, but there is no record of her filing for bankruptcy at any time.
Another allegedly fake review came from a woman who married one of the attorneys at the firm, offering a perfect five star review, yet no record of a bankruptcy is on her record either.
The lawsuit claims the firm posted a total of four glowing reviews with four brand new accounts, using a computer at the firm’s office, all within a single hour.
But wait, there’s more
Yelp also claims the firm colluded with other local firms to write positive reviews of each other. They say the scheme took place as follows: one lawyer signed up for Yelp with a fake account using his real email address, leaving a review that the accused firm “seriously rocks,” and on the same day, another local attorney wrote that the lead attorney at the firm ““puts the smack down on creditor harassment right away.”
In the filing, Yelp said that this behavior “exemplifies the behavior that Yelp combats daily through its algorithms and investigations — the planting of fake reviews intended to sway potential clients with false testimonials. The [firm]‘s efforts to mislead consumers are particularly brazen and disappointing given that they have targeted some of the most vulnerable consumers of all — individuals who may be facing bankruptcy and who are looking for potential legal representation.”
Allegations include breach of contract, intentional interference with contract, unfair competition, and false advertising, all of which the firm tells Ars Technica lack merit.
Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters
(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.
It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.
Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.
Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.
This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:
In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.
In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.
Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.
Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.
You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.
However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.
Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore
(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.
After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.
Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.
But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.
McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.
Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.
The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.
There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.
Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.
LinkedIn is nixing Stories this month (LinkedIn had Stories!?)
(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn tried to be like the cool kids and launched “Stories,” but the video feature is being shelved and “reimagined.” Ok.
Creating the next big thing is essential for social networks to stay relevant, continue growing, and avoid shutting down. Sometimes, this leads to businesses trying to ride along with the success of another app’s latest feature and creating their cloned version. While the logic of recreating something already working makes sense, the results aren’t universal.
This time around, LinkedIn is saying goodbye to its short-lived Snapchat-like video product, Stories. In a company post, LinkedIn says it’s removing its Stories experience by the end of September.
Why is LinkedIn retiring Stories?
According to a post by Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn Liz Li, “[LinkedIn] introduced Stories last year as a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.”
After some testing and feedback, they learned this is not what users wanted. Seems like they could have beta tested with users and heard the same thing, but I digress.
“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting. Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise,” said Li.
What does this mean for users?
Starting on September 30, 2021, users will no longer be able to create Stories for Pages. If you’ve already planned to have an image or video ads run in-between Stories, they will now appear on the LinkedIn feed instead. For those who used Campaign Manager to promote or sponsor a Story directly from your Page, the company says “these paid Stories will not appear in the LinkedIn feed”, and the user will need to recreate the ad in Campaign Manager.
What’s next for LinkedIn?
According to Li, LinkedIn is taking what it learned from its finding to “evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” It plans on doing so by using mixed media and the creative tools of Stories.
“As we reimagine what is next, we’re focusing on how we can provide you with a short-form, rich interactive video format that is unique to our platform and that better helps you reach and engage your audiences on LinkedIn. We’re always excited to try out new things and learn as we go, and will continue to share updates along the way,” the company said.
Although Stories didn’t work well for LinkedIn as they hoped, one thing is for sure. LinkedIn isn’t giving up on some form of interactive video, and we can only hope they “reimagine” something unique that keeps users coming back for more.
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