Yelp is one of the most popular online crowd-sourced reviews site providing users, domestically and internationally, information about local businesses. In recent years since it’s inception, Yelp has built a massive community of reviewers and both consumers and businesses rely heavily on Yelp reviews and ratings to determine the best local options. Consumer reviews on Yelp ranges from restaurant and cafes to salons and nightclubs.
Last month, Yelp made a blog post warning users of businesses may sue those who leave an honest but negative review on their Yelp page. In their post, Vince Sollitto, Senior Vice President of Yelp, talks about how some business will sometimes sue consumers on empty grounds. In response to these businesses, Yelp enacted a new Consumer Alert which will notify reviewers of certain businesses that will sue for negative reviews and these alerts will pop up once you land on the business’s Yelp page.
We suspect the Consumer Alert pop up notification on Yelp pages will have potential customers exiting your page faster than you can say “wait”. Yelp establishment of the Consumer Alerts as part of their Consumer Protection Initiative is a step forward to protect reviewer’s freedom of speech. So, for businesses that fights back using unjust court actions, perhaps utilizing Yelp’s messaging platform to resolve issues would be more ideal.
The federal government has also passed two pieces of legislation to help protect consumer’s First Amendment rights. Just this past Monday, the House of Representatives approved the “Right to Yelp Bill” or Consumer Review Fairness Act which, according to CNNMoney, “prohibits businesses from suing individuals for posting honest, but negative, online reviews”.
Secondly, according to Yelp, the SPEAK FREE Act “protects consumers from lawsuits intended to silence their freedom of speech”. Both will go hand in hand in protecting your right to provide an honest review of your experience for any establishments. However, slander, libel and other misleading or false information are still void and will not be protected by these acts.
Real and honest experiences are valuable to both potential customers and businesses. Yelp and the House of Representative has definitely added a crucial layer of security, a big step forward in fighting online censorship. With that said, go forth and continue sharing your genuine reviews and experiences with your Right to Yelp!