This Week in Social: Yelp’s Political Slice, YouTube’s Controversy, Elle’s Facebook Shoot

By Rob McNair

When Pizza Gets Political on Yelp

It’s a social network-powered online city guide that allows everyone to be something of a food critic. However, as with any social media platform, occasionally Yelp is hijacked for means other than its primary purpose. In 2011, comedian Daniel Tosh created a mock business listing entitled ‘Tosh.Dough’ which was inundated with innuendo-laden reviews following his invite to do so; meanwhile a user under the name ‘Abe L’ rated DC’s Ford’s Theatre a measly 2 stars.

However, no one could have quite anticipated the page for a pizza joint in Florida’s Fort Pierce becoming a platform for political opinion. Barack Obama made an unannounced stop for a slice and Big Apple Pizza & Pasta’s owner Scott Van Duzer, an Obama-supporting registered Republican (who was on Obama’s radar due to his charity work), gave the president a bear hug which lifted him clean off the ground and announced he’d vote for Obama in November. The outcome? Angry Republicans took to Yelp to berate Van Duzer, the business and even the pizza itself. Of course, those on the political left also climbed aboard to offer a rebuttal, praising that which had been disparaged and restoring the restaurant’s 4.5 star score. At present the restaurant has received over 3,000 reviews – quite a climb from the two it boasted initially. Yelp would prefer the platform to offer reviews influenced by food quality and ambience as opposed to politics, and their user operations team employs strategies to deal with content that violates the site’s guidelines, such as trolling. Yelp is currently in the media spotlight due to its expansion into Singapore, the 18th country for the site and the first not only in Asia but outside of Europe, the UK, US and Canada.

YouTube Under Fire In ‘Anti-Muslim Movie’ Outrage

Tragedy struck this week when an overnight attack broke out against the Benghazi-based American Consolate, resulting in the death of J Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other staff members. Allegedly the attack took place because of anger incited by a close to 14-minute-long trailer of a ‘movie’ condemning Islamic practices and seemingly satirising the story of the Prophet Mohammad. Benghazi wasn’t the only location targeted; protests also took place at Egypt’s American embassy in Cairo, and while predominantly nonviolent, the walls were scaled for an American flag to be replaced with a black one displaying an Islamic symbol. While the trailer itself was uploaded over two months ago, it came into the spotlight this week due to pastor Terry Jones from Florida, notorious for his dislike for Islam (which formerly involved burning a copy of the Qur’an, leading to Afghanistan-based violent protest which resulted in at least eleven deaths), discussing it in the wake of the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He declared Tuesday to be ‘International Judge Mohammad Day’, noting that the YouTube upload ‘shows the destructive ideology of Islam’ rather than directly denouncing Muslims, calling it an ‘American production’.

Following the attack on the Consolate, in order to prevent violence spreading further access to YouTube was blocked for some internet providers by Afghanistan’s government ‘until the video is taken down’, according to the country’s Ministry of Communication. Details of the film’s creator have been enigmatic – YouTube user ‘Sam Bacile’ was allegedly a California-based Israeli-American real estate developer, however the name was unrecognised by both Israeli officials and the licensed real estate developer registry. It is now thought that the filmmaker may be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian. Actors involved in the film, titled The Innocence of Muslims, deny knowledge that it was offensive to Muslims, and seemingly all characters’ names and religious references were clumsily dubbed over with Islamic ones in post-production. Those participating were told the film title was Desert Wars, and some have since come into the spotlight to voice their concerns. Some countries are seeking to ban YouTube altogether as a result of the conflict generated by this particular upload.

Elle Utilise Facebook for Reader-Driven Fashion Shoot

Until 20th September, Elle magazine will be asking their readers to choose all aspects of an upcoming fashion shoot – everything from themes such as ‘Femme Fatale’, ‘New Great Gatsby’ or ‘Big Top’, clothes, accessories, models and a surprise category that’s yet to be announced. Creative director Joe Zee is fronting the campaign, apparel is to be arranged by Shopbop (a fashion retailer owned by Amazon) and voting is to take place via a Facebook app in five successive rounds. The results of the shoot are due to be published in the December issue of Elle, scheduled for 13th November, while the shoot itself will be livestreamed on Facebook on 21st September. Until the publication hits newsstands, Elle will be sustaining user engagement by holding shoot-related social media competitions whereby followers will take to Instagram and Pinterest to fashion for photo shoots of their own and themed boards. While fashion brands have handed control to online audiences via social media in their campaigns before, Elle‘s involves them participating in a particularly connective manner.

X Factor USA Premiere Smashes Social Media Comment Records

(X Factor infographic from Bluefin Labs.)

Simon Cowell’s exported talent show began its second season run on Wednesday 12th September, and proceeded to become the most talked about series premiere on social media ever by commanding 1.4 million comments on Facebook and Twitter. It left Monday’s The Voice premiere falling at the 202,000 comment hurdle – yet when it came to audience numbers, The X Factor’s 8.5 million was left in the dust by The Voice‘s 12.3 million. Social media engagement for The X Factor was encouraged by the show officially egging on viewers to vote on Twitter for their favourite judge, using hashtags. However, the programme’s most talked about moment, scoring an average of 17,067 comments per minute, was Jillian Jenson’s audition where she sang Jessie J’s Who You Are in response to long-term torment from bullies. Between her choked up performance and judge Demi Lovato’s response of an onstage hug and many tears, viewers reacted to the fact that the notoriously harsh Simon Cowell ‘lost it’, became emotional, and choked up following the audition.


MCA Move In Downstairs

Our Manchester office has moved house! We didn’t have far to go though – mycleveragency now lives one floor down from where our original digs in Ducie House were. You can now find us at number 133. Watch this space for a time-lapse video of our journey downstairs, coming soon.

This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.