Court Rules Yelp Must Unmask the Identities of Anonymous Reviewers


The Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that Yelp must reveal the identities of seven anonymous reviewers who severely criticized a local business. The court deemed that their  “comments were not protected First Amendment opinions” if the Yelpers were never customers and thus, their reviews false. The game-changing decision could have negative impacts on “free speech rights on the internet,” Yelp warned, as business owners may be able to silence unfavorable critics moving forward.

Initially, Yelp refused to divulge the names of the seven anonymous Yelpers after attorneys representing Hadeed Carpet Cleaning sued the seven reviewers for defamation in July 2012 and subpoenaed Yelp for their identities. Despite Yelp’s repeated protest, the Virginia appeals court agreed 2-1 that Yelp must turn over information on the accused users.

Judge William Petty defended the decision, stating that “If the reviewer was never a customer of the business, then the review is not an opinion; instead, the review is based on a false statement of fact — that the reviewer is writing his review based on personal experience. And ‘there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact.'”

Unfortunately, Yelp is quite familiar with fake reviews and the issue has been an occurring source of contention. As for how the court’s ruling will effect those businesses in the food industry, many who would no doubt love to see Yelp close its doors, and the online reviewer experience, has yet to be determined.

Yelp has since begun its own political action committee that will enable them to collect money and lobby legislators as a way to influence policies such as the federal-level anti-defamation (anti-SLAPP) bill. Yes, it’s hardly a coincidence, Watson.

H/T Washington Times


Pinkberry Co-Founder Young Lee Found Guilty of Beating Homeless Man

Young Lee

Pinkberry co-founder Young Lee was found guilty on Friday of beating a homeless man with a tire-iron.

The attack originally occurred in LA in June 2011 when the homeless man, Daniel Bolding approached Lee’s car and displayed a racy tattoo of two figures having sex to Lee and his fiancee. Lee and a friend returned to the scene later and proceeded to beat the homeless man down with a tire iron.

It’s unclear whether it was Lee or his friend who wielded the tire iron but what is clear is that the homeless man endured traumatic bodily harm. The brutal attack coupled with the evidence that Lee attempted to intimidate witnesses was enough to convince jury members to convict Lee after two days of deliberation.

Sentencing will occur January 14 where Lee will face seven years in state prison but until then Lee is being held without bail as he is considered “a threat to the community”.

Pinkberry was founded in 2005 by cofounders Young Lee and Shelly Hwang in West Hollywood. Lee is no longer associated with the frozen yogurt chain.

H/T + PicThx Gawker