Are lawyers in the class-action suit against Yelp smelling victory?
On Monday, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman announced the user review giant would drop its
"Favorite Review" feature and let readers see the reviews that would
otherwise have been filtered out by its automated review filter. "Now
you can take a look at any business listing on Yelp and see for yourself
the work the review filter has done behind the scenes," Stoppelman
wrote on the Yelp blog. "Perhaps helping to protect one business from
malicious reviews that might stem from a competitor."
On Tuesday, TechCrunch noted that, in a press release, the Miami
and San Diego law firms who filed the class-action suit against
S.F.-based Yelp called Stoppelman's announcement a "first step in the
right direction." So Yelp's legal worries might soon be over, right? Not
so fast, warned TechCrunch.
The "Favorite Review" allowed businesses
that were Yelp advertisers to list their best review first. And while
letting readers see what yelp filters identify as suspect reviews does
little to address the meat of the plaintiffs' case. Namely, that Yelp
put the squeeze on businesses to compel them to become advertisers, and
when they didn't, gave negative reviews greater prominence on their
"It's still unclear how Yelp decides
what order to display a business' reviews," pointed out Kathleen Wentz of the East Bay Express, "and it's possible that
manipulation is still occurring."
This week's news looks like round one of what promises to be a long fight.