Yelp has been cleared of extortion charges in a California Appeals Court, but many are still leery of the ethics involved with Yelp’s practices. Plaintiffs charged that Yelp threatened to pull positive reviews for businesses that would not buy ads. The class action suit that originated in 2010 was dismissed, but its less than attractive alleged practices might well be going on; the court had stringent rules in place to protect ethical businesses, and the ruling didn’t mean that such behavior wasn’t morally disgusting, just that it didn’t rise to the level of extortion in this case.
For instance the plaintiffs could not manage to prove that they somehow had the right to those positive reviews when the reviews were generated in Yelp. They also couldn’t establish that Yelp had no right to ask the companies buy ads. Despite winning the case, some questions about Yelp remain.