Ever since Yelp! (“Yelp”) debuted on the digital scene, the online review website—currently worth over $3 billion – has been a hot topic amongst lawyers, marketers, and small business owners. Though the platform serves as an effective – and inexpensive – marketing tool for countless companies, it’s not without criticism.
Bluntly stated: many people think Yelp is an extortion racket that unfairly bilks startups and small companies. Is the criticism fair?
Yelp Critical Documentary Sets Out To Explore How The Website Works and If It’s Fair To Small Business Owners
Neutrally speaking, both sides probably have a point – and a documentary team is in the process of exploring the issue. Pressers are referring to it as a “Yelp critical documentary”.
Listed on Kickstarter.com (and now fully funded), the film’s working title is “Billion Dollar Bully”. The documentary’s central question: Is Yelp engaging in “extortion, review manipulation and review fabrication?” According to Billion Dollar Bully’s Kickstarter page, they are providing arguments “for and against.”
Yelp Lawsuits: Online Reputation, Fraud, and Unfair Practices
Over the past five years, Yelp has become fertile soil for unfair competition and business defamation lawsuits. Small business owners are suing people who post false, inflammatory reviews; Yelp is suing small business owners for allegedly “gaming” its platform. Last year, a group of SMBs even filed a class action suit against Yelp over the company’s advertising and display procedures (Levitt v. Yelp).
Business Owners Who Sue Posters Are The Most Successful
Generally speaking, the most successful Yelp lawsuits are ones in which a business owner sues a poster for making a false statement of fact about a product or service. But remember: a false statement of fact is not the same thing as a negative opinion. Sharing an unflattering opinion via Yelp isn’t defamatory, it’s perfectly legal criticism.
Consult With A Yelp Lawyer
If you’re a small business owner who is dealing with negative reviews on Yelp, Kelly / Warner can help clear the situation. Our firm focuses on Internet law issues and has successfully handled hundreds of online reputation cases. Often, it only takes a letter from an attorney to get a false review removed from Yelp.