Many people check Yelp or Facebook reviews before going to eat somewhere. But those looking online at Alta Strada Mosaic restaurant in Virginia may be a little confused. Despite “a consistent 4.2-star rating on Google; a 4-star rating on Yelp; and a 4.3-star rating on OpenTable,” according to The Washington City Paper, the restaurant only has a 2.6 score out of 5 on Facebook, “based on the opinions of 178 people.” Unfortunately for Alta Strada, 71 of these people appeared to post one-star FB reviews on the same day: August 18, 2018.
The Washington City Paper points out that those 71 reviews just offered numbers, not comments, even though they seemed to be posted by actual people with Facebook accounts. But maybe those people were hacked, as few of them appear to live in the D.C. area. While inflammatory comments can be flagged on the social network, since there were no comments, these errant rankings were even more difficult to call out.
Alex Levin, executive pastry chef of Schlow Restaurant Group, which Alta Strada is a part of, reportedly reached out to Facebook for help, but was left frustrated. According to the WCP, he received the following corporate-speak response from Facebook customer service: “In regards to the spam reviews they may be taken down if they violate our community standards. To help clarify what those issues are I have attached a link describing what they are. If after you have reviewed the Community Standards and you have seen that the reviews violate them please let me know what the reviews are and how they have violated policy standards.”
Online reviews, and the policing of such, are notoriously thorny issues. In the past, scammers have attempted to extort restaurants by posting bad reviews, and one negative review of a restaurant in South Carolina even led to a lawsuit. In the end, Levin and the restaurant group have decided to recreate Alta Strada’s Facebook page altogether. They will also disable the grading option for all of the Schlow Restaurant Group’s establishments on Facebook as “they’ve deemed Facebook reviews insecure.”