Will Yelp’s Lawsuits Curb Phony Reviews?

Source: WebProNews As phonebooks become a thing of the past, local and small businesses now rely more than ever on the internet to get the word out about their services. However, the social nature of today’s web makes it hard work for business owners to control how their business is perceived. A bad review can stick around forever, and the anonymous nature of the net can make it impossible to investigate claims or offer recompense. On Yelp in particular, bad or vindictive reviews can often hurt the reputation of a small business. Millions of people each month rely on the site to find local businesses, and low ratings can mean the difference between sales and bankruptcy. Add to this the fact that Yelp’s business model runs on selling advertising to the very business’ that inhabit its website and the situation becomes one that can cause resentment from business owners who are trying hard to promote their services on a limited budget. Within this climate, it isn’t surprising that Yelp has been sued multiple times by people who all but claim (though some explicitly claim) that Yelp is extorting small businesses. These claims include the hiding of positive reviews and the placing of competitor ads on business review pages. For its part, Yelp has strenuously denied being a racket and has generally come out on top in lawsuits. Through multiple blog posts and reports, Yelp has tried to explain how it attempts to filter out reviews that it sees as fake. These would include reviews from business owners themselves, as well as reviews from companies that sell false Yelp reviews.

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