Yelp, it would seem, doesn’t want its users to be afraid to leave negative reviews for businesses because of some of the lawsuits that have made the headlines.
“But despite this press hype, it’s important to keep in mind that the First Amendment guarantees the rights of consumers to express their opinion about a business and honestly describe their experience,” he writes. “These strong protections are why these suits are unlikely, especially when a reviewer has thoughtfully shared their views (Yelp provides guidance on how to do this in our Content Guidelines). We find the most useful reviews include a rich narrative, a wealth of detail and perhaps a helpful tip for others who are looking to spend their hard-earned money at that local business.”
“As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, litigation is not a good substitute for customer service,” he continues. “Businesses that try to sue their customers into silence rarely prevail, end up wasting their own time and money and usually bring additional, unwanted attention to the original criticism (a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect). Many states (though, unfortunately not Virginia) have laws designed to further protect consumers from being intimidated or silenced by these types of lawsuits. These Anti-SLAPP laws allow consumers to quickly end meritless lawsuits and require the business to pay the consumer’s legal fees when the business loses.”
Yelp reviewers help both consumers and “good” businesses, he says.
The company recently disclosed its lobbying efforts after hiring lobbyist Laurent Crenshaw, who is lobbying on an “anti-SLAPP” bill, which would prevent strategic lawsuits against public participation.
Yelp was recently ordered by a court to identify anonymous users whom one business said were writing fake, negative reviews.
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