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

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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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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Josh Peterson