I’ve written up the details of the litigation over at Search Engine Land . . .
Two class action law firms have filed suit in Los Angeles federal court claiming that Yelp has attempted to “extort” money from small businesses by offering to remove negative reviews in exchange for payment. The suit contends:
Yelp runs an extortion scheme in which the company’s employees call businesses demanding monthly payments, in the guise of “advertising contracts,” in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews appearing on the website. The plaintiff, a veterinary hospital in Long Beach, California, asked that Yelp remove a false and defamatory review from the website. In response, as set forth in the lawsuit, Yelp refused to take down the review. Instead, the company’s sales representatives repeatedly contacted the hospital and demanded a roughly $300 per-month payment in exchange for hiding or removing the negative review.
This kind of allegation has been out in the media in the past. Most notably in an article that appeared in weekly publication the East Bay Express almost exactly a year ago. The article was called Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0 . . .
It was all I could do to keep myself from saying the action was total bullshit. You’ve got a frustrated plaintiff who may have had an anomalous experience or misunderstood what was going on and a couple of opportunistic attorneys seeking national PR.
Evidence could prove me wrong but I just don’t believe it.