Court requires Yelp to reveal names of negative reviewers

by Larry Emmott on January 10, 2014

in Social Media

hateyelpFrom CNET:

…a court in Virginia has insisted that Yelp name seven reviewers who posted their dissatisfactions about a carpet cleaning company. As the Washington Times reports, the Virginia Court of Appeals declared that Yelp comments weren’t covered by the First Amendment because the posters weren’t customers of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning…

Yelp offered me this further comment: “Other courts and other states have shown support for citizens’ First Amendment right to speak anonymously. Consumers may feel the need to speak anonymously for privacy reasons or for fear of unfair retaliation by a business. This ruling could have a chilling effect on free speech in Virginia and Yelp will continue to fight to protect consumers’ privacy and free speech rights. This ruling also shows the need for strong state and federal legislation to prevent meritless lawsuits aimed solely at stifling free speech.”

via Court to Yelp: Reveal names of negative reviewers | Technically Incorrect – CNET News.

I believe the free speech issue is ridiculous demagoguery. This ruling has nothing to do with the government restricting anyone’s speech. What it could do is bring some responsibility to online reviews. Hiding behind an anonymous online persona to spread negative reviews is not a right, it is cowardice.

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