Facebook ratings deserve a 1 star

Facebook's feature for rating businesses offer little value and more harm. With a few tweaks it could be useful for businesses and individuals.

With Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift yesterday they take a step closer into becoming the real-world version of The Circle (a novel by Dave Eggers). Similarly to the Circle’s mission (transparency for all), Facebook’s mission is to “make the world more open and connected.” They’re certainly living up to it with their acquisition of WhatsApp, Instagram, and their allusions as to what Oculus Rift can bring about.

However a recent feature businesses are impacted by would be the opposite of “open and connected.” In late 2013 Facebook released a feature that allowed users to rate any business that had a Facebook page and a physical address. That’s fine, it’s natural that Facebook would harness its user base to provide more data about businesses, but for the actual business getting rated, this feature causes more harm than good.

Here are the main issues with Facebook ratings:

-          Who is rating you?

You may have 100 reviews on your business and you can see the breakdown in ratings if you hover over the star rating. You can click on “See All” in the reviews section and it will pull up the person, what they reviewed the business as, and their comment (if any) during the review. However looking through the reviews you are bound to notice that there are suspicious Facebook profiles that indicate they are fake users. Even worse, unless the person has set their review to public you won’t be able to see their rating at all, which leads into the next point…


-          Why did they give you that rating?

Did they hate the food? Did they love the ambience? Was the alcohol selection fantastic? Was there a problem with service? Is it just an accident they clicked the button? Who knows! There’s no requirement to fill out a comment regarding the rating and even if they did, the page owner may not be able to see it. Without reasons behind a rating the rating itself becomes meaningless.


-          One-sided viewpoint

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story, and one of the things that Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites like HungryGoWhere have done is provide a management response option to any review posted. When a business is able to respond they can dig deeper into the issue, offer an explanation for what happened, or at least acknowledge they have seen the review. By not having an avenue to respond, particularly if the review isn’t even visible to the business, then you’re arming those people who bully businesses by saying, “If you don’t do this, I’m going to rate you poorly!”


-          No opportunity for improvement

Related to the points above, if a business receives a low rating with no comment or can’t see what people are posting about it, there’s no opportunity for that business to act on the feedback. Facebook wants to help businesses, right? Let business owners know how to improve themselves via customer feedback.


-          How does an owner see all the ratings in a meaningful way?

There is no reporting tool for the reviews, no way to get more details. There isn’t even a good way to know when you have a new review. If you click on “Show All” in the reviews section they’re not even listed in chronological order. It essentially seems like Facebook said, “Here’s a bunch of random reviews about your page. See if you can make any sense of it.”

My recommendation to Facebook would be to let a business owner see and have the ability to respond to every review posted about their business. For the folks that want to review it anonymously, Facebook can mask the actual profile but still show the comment and ratings to the owner and give the opportunity to respond.