The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
              FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2011 file photo, the logo of the online reviews website Yelp is shown in neon on a wall at the company  FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2011 file photo, the logo of the online reviews website Yelp is shown in neon on a wall at the company's new Manhattan offices in New York. Online reviews site Yelp is expected to price its initial public offering of stock on Thursday , March 1, 2012, and become the latest in a long line of social websites going public. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)   

Yelp pushes back, says allegations it fixes reviews are ‘demonstrably false’

Yelp is pushing back against claims by small businesses that it is engaging in deceptive and harmful practices against companies that refuse to advertise with it.

Last week, the FTC publicly released 685 complaints against the company, with some going as far as calling Yelp the “Internet Mafia” and the “thug of the Internet.”

The release was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by MuckRock News in August 2012.

Luther Lowe, the director of government affairs at Yelp, told The Daily Caller in a Twitter response Tuesday that the claims made against Yelp were “demonstrably false,” linking to a response he gave to the media outlet BostonInnovation several days prior.

Lowe’s response included a link to a page of Google search results that yielded 1,780 negative reviews of businesses that advertise with Yelp. 

However, key allegations are that Yelp threatens to delete positive reviews from the profiles of companies that refuse to pay up — not simply that it removes negative reviews for paying companies. (RELATED:  Yelp calls complaints “myths”)

Lowe also pointed to a Harvard study that concluded, “Yelp does not seem to favor advertisers – at least by selective filtering.”

The FTC granted the request several weeks after the agency decided to drop its investigation of complaints against Google that it had engaged in anti-competitive business practices harmful to its competitors, including Yelp. 

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