SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Yelp is seeing a spike in traffic this week as users flock to the website to bash Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who became a social media target after he killed a beloved lion in Zimbabwe.
The death of Cecil the lion has provoked strangers to slam Palmer on Facebook and Twitter. But now they’re taking it a step further by attacking his livelihood on Yelp.READ MORE: One Dead, 3 Injured In Horrific Richmond I-80 Chain Reaction Crash
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a river of negative Yelp reviews has boosted traffic for the San Francisco-based business review website.
In a matter of two days since Palmer first made headlines for killing Cecil, visits to Yelp jumped 11 percent.
“Walter J. Palmer, DDS,” Mitchell O. from San Jose wrote. “Specializing Extraction & Cosmetic procedures, specifically Whole Head Extraction and Skin Removal.”
“I hope this guy loses his ability to work anymore due to people seeing what a HORRIBLE KILLER he is!” Rebecca A. from Denver, CO posted.
Palmer, for obvious reasons, has decided to temporarily shut down his practice.
Many of the people leaving comments are first time Yelpers, which is theoretically good news for the social media website. But to credit the uptick to users who are using Yelp to spray viscous comments rather than real reviews of a business distracts from the website’s mission.
Yelp has responded by removing some of the most hateful reviews, which triggered a new uproar of criticism.READ MORE: One Dead In 'Suspicious' Early Morning Cupertino House Fire
“Looks like yelp deleted my review again,” wrote Jay S. from Mesquite, NV. “To yelp – Stop censoring reviews. This man is a disgusting, vile, and horrible human being, and people deserve to know.”
Others said they would continue reposting their reviews despite Yelp’s best efforts to keep the space apolitical.
Yelp said in a tweet on Thursday that they too are “horrified by the senseless death of Cecil,” and understand many want to voice their outage, but they are also “equally committed to preserving the integrity of the review content on Yelp.”
“Reviews aren’t the place for rants about a business’s employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don’t address the core of the consumer experience,” the company said in an email statement to CBS San Francisco. “Yelp reviews are required to describe a firsthand consumer experience, not what someone read in the news. Our user support team ultimately removes reviews that violate these guidelines.”
Regardless, any positive reviews on Palmer’s business page are quickly becoming overshadowed and could have damaging effects on his practice in the long-run.MORE NEWS: Santa Rosa 19-Year-Old On Probation Accused Of Possessing 'Ghost Gun', Cocaine
Nicole Jones is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco. Follow her musings @nicjonestweets