Yelp is one of the largest review sites on the Internet. Yelp is targeted at providing the “best way to find great local businesses.” As such, many local shops, restaurants, cafes, clubs, bakeries, bars, and other local establishments can be rise and fall with their Yelp reviews. In fact, a 2011 Harvard Business School study found that each star difference in ratings corresponded to roughly a five to nine percent effect on revenues for restaurants. The study also found that compared to chain restaurants, Yelp reviews had a more prominent effect on local or independent eateries because consumers did not have preconceived ideas about the establishment.
Unfortunately, some reviewers use Yelp maliciously and leave false negative reviews to achieve their own ends. In some cases they may have a personal disagreement with an owner or employee and engage in personal attacks. In other instances, the malicious reviewer may be aware of the effect Yelp can have on a business and attempt to leverage his or her review to obtain free or discounted products and services. In still other cases, a competitor may improperly use Yelp to attack the reputation of your business.
The Internet defamation removal attorneys of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA can fight to remove defamatory, false, and malicious reviews from Yelp. To schedule a free and complimentary Internet defamation removal consultation call us at (216) 831-0042 or contact us online.
In some cases, the most direct means to remove the defamatory review is to work directly with Yelp. Business owners and companies that are affected by false and defamatory reviews can flag or report reviews that may violate the terms of Yelps user guidelines. Yelp’s code of conduct prohibits reviews that violate the following guidelines including:
An experienced attorney who is familiar with the type of proof and information Yelp needs to remove reviews may provide a greater likelihood of removal. However, Yelp has shown that it is extremely hesitant to remove posts that aren’t in obvious violation of its policies.
If working with Yelp is ineffective, it may be necessary to take legal action to uncover the identity of the poster of false and defamatory reviews. This step is necessary not only because users are pseudo-anonymous on Yelp, but also because user-generated content platforms like Yelp receive broad protection from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. However, individual posters who make use of sites like Yelp do not receive the same protection. They can be held liable for the damages their false and defamatory posts cause.
However, before one can take legal action against the individual poster, his or her identity must be determined. Typically, this is accomplished through a process that begins with the injured business owner filing a lawsuit in his or her state against a John or Jane Doe defendant. After filing the suit, the individual can seek a subpoena against Yelp compelling the company to release information about the review author. Yelp will typically notify the poster and provide 14 days for the individual to reply. If the poster fails to reply or does not object, Yelp’s lawyers will contact you or counsel. Yelp’s attorneys will ask for proof that the post is false and defamatory. If satisfied, they will release the IP address of the poster and potentially other information. The business owner or his or her lawyer can use this IP address to subpoena the Internet service provider to uncover the identity of the poster. From this point, the poster can be named as a defendant in the lawsuit and the legal proceedings to hold the poster accountable can continue.
Yelp is an extremely useful business development tool. However, like any tool, Yelp can be abused to serve the ends of malicious individuals. If malicious customers or competitors seeking to leverage the power of Yelp for their own gain have targeted your business, the Internet defamation removal attorneys of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA can fight to have the content removed. To schedule a free and confidential defamation removal consultation call (216) 831-0042 or contact us online. We guarantee the removal of the defamatory review or you will receive your money back.