This is mostly just a post about the back-and-forth, David-and-Goliath struggles between local businesses and local-focused online services like Yelp. Google Maps has the same issues. But this being The New Inquiry, the post also reveals some subtler implications of these seemingly convenient services.
Yelp surely makes everyday life easier for its users, but what sort of life, exactly? Is it really the kind of savvy life it feels like, where we can easily sniff out the best deals and service all around us? Because it kinda feels like it's just an uncanny simulacrum of that life controlled by a single company with its own interests at heart:
In essence, Yelp is a replica city where not only does a Yelp-owned shingle hang for every business that exists but Yelp has a monopoly on all the billboards as well.
Think about that: the city on Yelp is the city as it is really is to people who navigate it with the app. But it’s not necessarily the same city as the one outside. If a business doesn’t rate well on Yelp, it barely exists in the Yelp-city. And what if a business doesn’t want to participate in Yelp at all? Well, that’s what the article is about.