Yelpers have written more than 108 million reviews by the end of Q2 2016. Yelp uses automated software to recommend the most helpful and reliable reviews for the Yelp community among the millions we get. The software looks at dozens of different signals, including various measures of quality, reliability, and activity on Yelp.
A recent lawsuit and subsequent ruling over whether or not negative posts on Yelp about a law firm should be removed, are causing a free speech debate and raising the eyebrows of the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and others.
Two years ago, a judge ruled the posts removed and some technology industry pundits worry that this particular “ruling against Yelp could stifle free speech online.” Lawyers for the law firm are surprised by the outrage and have said that the case is about removing posts that “lie” on Yelp –which would not affect users’ abilities to draft negative or positive reviews.
In a letter to the California Supreme Court, the technology giants wrote that the ruling “radically departs from a large, unanimous and settled body of federal and state court precedent” and could be used to “silence a vast quantity of protected and important speech.”
Millions have come to depend on honest peer reviews on Yelp that rate the neighborhood restaurant, plumber, doctor, school and more. People want to know what others think and how they experienced a service or product. Thoughtful reviews that may contain negatives and/or positives, have proven to be very popular and helpful.
But what about false claims? Abuse? Many small businesses have complained that some people take advantage of the forum and can harass and make false claims. These are not thoughtful reviews. For instance, a repairman sued a woman for lying and harassing him on Yelp and won a thousand dollars in damages.
Yelp is not happy about the ruling to remove the law firm posts and complained that now people have another said it had another “legal pathway for getting them removed. They could sue the person who posted the content and then get a court order demanding the Internet company remove it.”