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Facebook begins adding critics' reviews to restaurant pages

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A pilot project with five partners

Two weeks after starting to host news articles on its servers, Facebook said today it would add a new kind of editorial content: critics' reviews of restaurants, which are rolling out today to "select" restaurant pages in the United States. When you browse Facebook looking for restaurants, critics' reviews will now show up alongside reviews left by friends or other people who are not paid to eat all day and then complain that the lobster bisque was under-seasoned. It may help to goose interest in Facebook's local-search product, which hasn't yet done much to peel away eyeballs from similar products from Yelp and Google.

To start with, Facebook is partnering with Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, Eater, New York Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. (Eater is owned by The Verge's parent company, Vox Media.) "Since reviews are such an important part of helping people make informed decisions about what to do locally, we're excited to be incorporating a new way for people to use Facebook to find the best real-world experiences," a Facebook spokeswoman told us in an email. "Thousands" of restaurants are included in the pilot, she said.

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For restaurants, editorial reviews are a mixed blessing. Facebook Pages is an advertising product — businesses pay to promote them in your News Feed — and typically businesses would want control over the types of reviews that appear on their ads. Facebook will show negative reviews if they are provided by the publisher, the company said. But most of the reviews so far come from "best of" lists like the Eater 38.

Update, 1:46 p.m.: Updated to include comment from Facebook on including negative reviews, and corrected the number of partners.