Yelp and Trip Advisor Disable Reviews for Donnelly’s Gold Fork Hot Springs After Vaccine Backlash
Gold Fork Hot Springs in Donnelly officially reopened today, but not everyone is welcome back to this slice of Idaho paradise.
Over the weekend, they made their reopening date official on their website but surprised visitors with a new COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Under the new rules, you must have a photo ID and proof of vaccination to enter the pools and facilities. The policy applies to unvaccinated children as well. Children under the age of twelve are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine.
Travel Sites Put a Stop to "Review Bombing"
After seeing the amount of negative comments on the hot springs Facebook page, we naturally were curious to see how much their rating on Yelp had dropped. We checked on Friday afternoon and were greeted by an "Unusual Activity Alert" reading:
"This business recently received increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news. While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to this incident, we’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to this page as we work to investigate the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events."
Since Gold Fork posted their vaccination requirement on their website, 40 users left one star reviews prompting the shut down.
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Trip Advisor followed suit posting this message:
"Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing. If you’ve had a firsthand experience at this property, please check back soon - we’re looking forward to receiving your review!"
It appears that Trip Advisor has deleted the flood of one star reviews they received as all of their one star reviews were dated February 2020 or earlier.
The practice of bombarding a business with negative reviews is known as "review bombing." Ultimately the goal of review bombers is to harm the popularity of a place or product. While it originated as a way to criticize video game developers, the practice is now being used to send political and cultural messages to other businesses. It's now widely considered another tool in the tool box of "cancel culture."