Reviewing federal agencies on Yelp may soon feel more like a two-way dialogue rather than a shout into the wind, the company announced on Tuesday.
Under a new agreement with Yelp, federal agencies can now claim their existing Yelp pages or launch new ones to respond officially to reviews, according to Luther Lowe, vice president of public policy at Yelp. "It's exciting because it allows government agencies to take real-time feedback from citizens and act upon it in a way that helps our democracy operate better," Lowe says.
Non-government services like restaurants and bars have long been able to claim their pages and respond to reviews, Lowe explains, whereas federal agencies had not previously been able to do so — even though many of them, from USPS locations to congressmen offices, have been reviewed on Yelp for years.
"Basically, we had to create a special terms of service for government service agencies, to make sure that the government isn't endorsing one platform over another," Lowe says.
The visual changes on the site are subtle. Users won't see a badge indicating that a federal agency has claimed its page, Lowe explains. But they can still tell whether a page has been claimed if, under the business information, there remains a link that reads, "Work here? Claim this business."
A similar transparency initiative was launched by Yelp last week to improve medical services.