An Overview of Recent Facebook Review Changes
Chris Ratchford

As Facebook becomes a more popular destination for people to post ratings and reviews of businesses, the site is experiencing some speed bumps. Case in point: an ongoing issue related to the way it changed its ratings/recommendations system in 2018. It looks like Facebook is not consistently managing the transition to a new review system that took hold in 2018. As a result, some customer reviews are disappearing. Here is more context: in 2018, Facebook changed its ratings/recommendations system. Under the old way, Facebook users rated businesses on a scale of 1 to 5. In August 2018, though, Facebook introduced a simpler approach of having people either recommend or not recommend (Recommend / Doesn’t Recommend ) a business, as well as write a comment, as shown below:

But Facebook still needs to address a lingering issue: What happens to all of those reviews people posted using the numerical rating system prior to the switchover in 2018? 

How Facebook Has Been Changing Review Display

Facebook has not consistently applied a system for managing old reviews. Many Facebook watchers observed that Facebook simply began to stop dating reviews prior to August 2018. In addition, for at least one client, Facebook was hiding previously published reviews prior to November 2018, as with the example below. When we viewed reviews by Most Recent, Facebook showed no more reviews available on the page.

But you can still get access to the old review if you performed a workaround  — specifically if you hold on your keyboard Open_Graph_StoryID(External ReviewID). Below is an example that proves there are reviews dated before November 12, 2018.

A Review Dated November 6, 2018

Migrating Old Reviews?

We’ve noticed Facebook migrated some reviews older than 2017 to the recommendation-based system that took hold in August 2018. 

As shown above, we assume that Facebook is in the process of migrating old numbers-based ratings to the recommendation-based system – and also suppressing the old reviews. This inconsistent behavior has created confusion.

What’s Next?

I suspect that Facebook no longer believes the old reviews to be valuable. That’s because, in February 2020, Facebook stopped providing a unique ID for the old rating-only type reviews. Historically, every review on Facebook (star rating only or star rating and comment) would have a unique ID associated with it. Facebook’s actions demonstrate that it no longer sees enough value in old reviews to attach a unique identifier to them for API review management purposes. 

If you manage your Facebook presence directly, I suggest that you reach out to Facebook directly to achieve a resolution on how the company is managing the disposition of reviews.

Having A Track Record of Reviews is Important to Your Reputation 

To be sure, having up-to-date reviews is important, and so far it looks like reviews under the recommendations-based system are being published regularly. But it’s also important to maintain a lengthy track record of reviews. Businesses with more reviews have more credibility.

This is especially important given how important Facebook has become a ratings/reviews destination. I consider Facebook to be a “customer review amplifier.” Review amplifiers wield an inordinate impact on a business’s online perception. They not only amplify a company’s presence via search – but they also get more attention for a business through customer reviews. The most influential review amplifier is Google, but Facebook is right up there with Google given Facebook’s social media reach. According to Facebook, about one-third of people on Facebook use the platform to look for recommendations, and two out of three visit the Facebook page of a local business or event once a week.

So it’s especially important that Facebook manage carefully how it revises its approach to ratings and reviews.

Chris designed his first website almost 25 years ago in the days of Macromedia Dreamweaver. Fast forward a dozen years later, Chris started his own “one-man” dental SEO agency, Prodentite, helping dentists with their online presence from custom dental websites and local SEO, to paid search. In 2012, Chris attended his first (of many) LocalU conference where he met Joy Hawkins and many other key contributors in the newly emerging world of local search.