Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Yelp may not be trustworthy

I've been following this story in Ars for a while, but it occurs to me that most people don't know about it, and it's more relevant to the average Internet user than most.

Yelp is a big online website for rating local business: as such, it's quite useful for finding out how good a place is. But there's been a disturbing trend of businesses reporting high-pressure sales tactics: buy ads from us, or we won't take down false negative reviews of your business.

This has gotten to the point of a class-action lawsuit. Doesn't mean it's actually true, but there are enough reports by now to invoke the "where there's smoke, there's fire" guideline: it seems like the story has to be taken seriously.

We'll see how this goes. Pity if it turns out to be true, since it seems like a useful service, but they may not have learned one of the key rules for a review site: to be trusted, your content and advertising functions *must* be carefully separated...
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