Court Says Yelp Is Allowed to Manipulate Ratings

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that Yelp manipulating rates to favor those that pay for ads is not illegal
Court Says Yelp Is Allowed to Manipulate Ratings

Do you agree with Yelp’s business tactics, or are they shady?

After a lawsuit accusing the review site of unethical business practices, in which Yelp was accused of inflating the scores of businesses who paid for advertising on the site, the U.S. Circuit of Appeals has ruled that what the ratings website is doing is in fact, not illegal. You win this time, Yelp. Even though yelp has adamantly denied these accusations, the court has maintained that Yelp — as a business itself — has the same rights as any other business, and that these “conflations” would actually be nearly impossible to prove.

"As Yelp has the right to charge for legitimate advertising services, the (alleged) threat of economic harm ... is, at most, hard bargaining, and not extortion or unfair business practices,” said Judge Marsha Berzon said in Tuesday's 3-0 ruling.

Yelp released a statement about the ruling, saying, “We are obviously happy that the court reached the right result, and saw through these thin attempts by a few businesses and their lawyers to disparage Yelp and draw attention away from their own occasional negative review.”

This ruling comes after the lower courts also dismissed a lawsuit by several businesses claiming that they were penalized for not buying advertising on Yelp.

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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi