We once wrote a substantial article about google reviews, mostly negative ones.
Google admittedly is not a court of law and does not want to settle disputes between users (read here – how to remove reviews from Google) e.g. a restaurant owner and his customer,
BUT FOR SOME TIME it wants to „somehow read“ every opinion and better enforce its strict rules and regulations. It used to be that all reviews went through quickly and smoothly, without moderation.
And it is read by a machine (machine learning) + a human operator. Together they make up the Verification Team (source: official Google blog, https://blog.google/products/maps/how-google-maps-reviews-work/)
Training the machine on the difference between acceptable and offending content is a delicate balance. For example, sometimes the word „gay“ is used as an offensive term, and it’s not something we tolerate in Google reviews. But if we teach our machine learning models that it is only used in hate speech, we can erroneously remove reviews promoting a gay business owner or LGBTQ+ safe space. Our operators regularly conduct quality tests and receive additional training to remove bias from machine learning models.
If a review violates the google terms of service (Google Maps User Content Policy – available here), it is immediately deleted. However, there are plenty of nuances where the machine simply doesn’t know whether to delete or not. For the purposes of this article, I’ve called this purgatory (This is a hypothesis based on my practice, that of my colleagues and some clients). Then it waits for the human decision*.
In general, preventing offensive or false opinions is the right thing to do, but unfortunately it is a cure with a side effect.
The effect is as follows. In some cases, the time from writing an opinion to publishing it, for example, one week to several months, has increased a lot*.
*Google employees from the verification team sometimes work in the office, sometimes remotely, sometimes there is a coronavirus, sometimes not, in addition, staff shortages. Google can also temporarily change rules for parts of the world, e.g. war in Ukraine, etc.
Disappearing opinions in Google
In summary, the problem of not publishing opinions on Google is becoming more frequent. The opinion is not there because:
it is in the process of verification (1-x weeks/months) -> that is, google does not know what to do with it for now
it violated google’s rules and regulations, e.g., impersonation, political topics, conflict of interest (and was immediately OR deleted after some time). As a side note, it may also be considered a violation of the regulations to post reviews from different accounts, but from the same IP address / device.
What else do they write on the official blog ?
In addition to checking flagged content, our team actively works to identify potential abuse threats, which reduces the likelihood of successful abuse attacks. For example, in the case of an upcoming event that is very popular – for example, an election – we put in place heightened protection for places associated with the event and other nearby businesses that people may search for in Maps. We continue to monitor these venues and businesses until the risk of abuse is gone, to support our mission of publishing only authentic and reliable reviews.
With more than a billion people using Google Maps every month to navigate and explore, we want to make sure that the information they see – especially reviews – is credible to everyone.
Does a human, or a robot, get it wrong sometimes ?
*April 21 edition: that is, all 4 situations are possible: a simple review passes / does not pass / a false review passes / does not pass. In addition, it is likely that the war in Ukraine and the massive action of Polish entries in the Russian google maps, the Poles did not „google“ well. We wanted good, google reacted allergically (this is also a hypothesis).
How % ?
Google does not keep such statistics.
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