Yelp Ordered to Reveal Reviewer Identities

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Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) –- Bloomberg’s Nicholas Thompson reports on Yelp being ordered by a Virginia court to reveal the names of seven anonymous users who allegedly posted reviews that falsely claimed to be from actual customers. He speaks to Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Because i think the merchants feel like they have no way to respond or even know if someone is slamming their business.

It is not just one merchant with a problem.

This is a big issue that is being fought nationwide.

It seems the company got a better ruling in virginia than they would have in other states.

It shows the power of yelp and the outcome of this lawsuit could be fairly important.

There is a right to privacy and anonymity.

A small district court rules for a local merchant.

I cannot imagine that would hold.

I disagree on that point.

The first point, yes.

We do have a right to free speech and privacy.

There is also a right against libelous statements.

If they do a libelous statement under anonymity, does the person have a right to figure out who it was so they can sue them?

The court was responding to that.

Lots of states have responded in a more global way.

Virginia is responding to a particular thing.

They are saying that it seems reasonable based on the evidence that you have given to us that the people who posted these negative reviews were lying and were not actually your customers.

Therefore, we will ask yelp to turn over their user data.

And you can proceed with a case against them.

We are not saying you will win that case, but at least you will be able to sue them.

Should it be determined first event was libelous?

You cannot really do that.

The libelous nature depends on whether it was false.

If there are customers saying, you stink, that is different than if they are not a real customer.

Truth and falsehood really matter.

The truth and falsehood depends on who the person is.

That is effectively what the court has said.

You can call someone a big, stupid jerk if they are a big, stupid jerk.

This is a classic bind that young companies have as well.

On one hand, they want to protect the anonymity of these people.

On the other hand, they want their reviews to be honest and fair.

Is it a fault within the business model of yelp that does not really vet who the people are who are making comments?

It is a hard thing to deal with.

They want everyone to feel like they are free to comment on what they want.

It is in their business interest to have the most reviews and the most accurate reviews out there.

You have a anonymous reviews and there is not an incentive or ease with which people can diss their competitors.

Watching how dominant this business has become, a few years ago, we looked at a number of companies.

Yelp has had a lot of success.

It is one of those businesses where it compounds itself.

As you do better, you get more people reviewing and more reviewers, which leads to more reviews and higher quality views.

The company has certainly succeeded and built its lead.

Growing at a 70% pace year- over-year, you might imagine that they would become the only game in town because it is a marketplace.

If you want to get to the place where the information resides, you are going to go to the place where most of the information is going to happen.

It goes back to the first point.

People care about yelp and it matters to this carpet company.

It does not matter on other sites.

Thank you very much.

Thank you, cory.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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