How the Hells Angels Weaponized Facebook and Yelp

The HA would really like to speak to your manager.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, Canada
April 10, 2018, 3:48pm

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Some members of the Hells Angels feel they are being discriminated against for their association with the organized crime group and they’re not going to take it anymore.

But instead of taking it to the streets on their Harleys and wearing brass knuckles, they’re going to Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and wherever else they can tank your business—and they’re not half bad at it. As first reported by the CBC, the targeted negative reviews written by bikers and their supporters actually forced one popular Manitoba restaurant off Facebook.

It probably needn’t be said but, even though their strength has been waning in recent years, the Hells Angels are a down and dirty criminal organization involved in drug running, extortion, trafficking, and other illicit activities. The so-called one percenter gang has been responsible for numerous murders around the globe.

However, just because they’re a tough biker gang, doesn’t mean their feelings can’t get hurt. The HA first took to their keyboards over bruised egos when a motorcycle ride set to start from the Headingley Sports Shop in Manitoba, a Canadian province, this summer said people flying colors couldn’t partake. Dale Kelland, an alleged leader of the Manitoba Nomads—an HA club—asked affiliated members and supporters to give the sports shop negative reviews.

The CBC reports that Kelland, better known as Dale Donovan, is widely believed to be the leader of several Manitoba-based chapters of the HA. The CBC also reports that Kelland served eight years for drug trafficking and attempting to recruit new members to a “criminal organization”—he was sentenced in 2009.

Kelland’s message was quickly amplified by others in the organization. Many of the requests state that the discrimination is against “law-abiding clubs” but end with the term “Support 81” which directly references the Hells Angels (H being the eighth letter of the alphabet, and A being the first.) This deluge of hundreds of negative reviews forced the sports shop to withdraw from the ride and release a statement of support and asked them to rescind their negative one-star reviews.

HA supporters and members were joyous in their success and quickly changed most of their reviews to five stars heaping praise on the store for not “discriminating against them.” “Awesome to see a business step up to the plate and knock it outta the park for non-discrimination,” wrote one user who changed his review from one star to five.

Possibly drunk with online power, the CBC reports that after their success with the Headingley Sport Shop, the HA and their supporters didn’t stop. From here, they turned their eyes to a hotel in Winnipeg (and the restaurant within the hotel) that had turned away members sporting HA patches. Again, at Kelland’s urging, hundreds of supporters and members heaped negative reviews on the page—many writing them from outside of Manitoba and even Canada—the CBC reports that in just 24 hours, their rating went from 4.5 to 3. The hotel eventually removed their Facebook page “for the foreseeable future” as a result.

After chasing the business from Facebook, they took to TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other online rating sites. Speaking to the CBC, TripAdvisor said they removed the negative reviews and a spokesperson said they “refer to this type of fraud as vandalism” and that they “fight it aggressively.” However, the negative reviews remain on Yelp where the Marion hotel has a two-star review.

When you go there the first thing you see are images people posted—the first featured image is of former KKK leader, David Duke in full regalia and the second is a photo of an obese man giving a thumbs up with his balls hanging out of his shorts. The photo of the large man with his balls hanging out was posted by someone using the name “Dale K.”

Many of the reviews, again, claim that the hotel not wanting a criminal organization cavorting inside their business is tantamount to discrimination against “the biker community,” however, a few decided to get a little more creative. “I got crabs from the toilet seat and I got the trotts from the burger and I’m finding it hard to get the smell of the place off my clothes,” reads one review.

I’m not sure if this is a bold new direction for the Hells Angels, but if you have to ask the question, you won’t understand the answer.

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