Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco essentially ruled that extortion is perfectly legal — at least, if the minds behind Yelp are the ones doing the extorting.
The way it works is this: a business can buy an ad on Yelp. Yelp can then, as thanks, raise their overall rating, regardless of what customer reviews have to say about it. Even though Yelpers are notoriously insane, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a site based on aggregate reviews if you then allow businesses to pay for scores that don’t reflect those reviews. This is all explicit, by the way: in the future, Yelp is perfectly allowed to do this, then publicly admit they do this, and then even advertise that they do this, should they so choose.
So the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just gave Yelp the go ahead to extort businesses by offering them higher ratings if they pay for more ads on Yelp. While the ruling doesn’t expressly say Yelp is likewise allowed to threaten them with lower ratings if they don’t pay up (a practice Yelp of which has been repeatedly accused in the past), you can bet it gives Yelp carte blanche to do just that — and that they’ll go full speed ahead with it.
This is another from the long, long, looooooooooong list of reasons you should never, ever, EVER use Yelp. It’s 100% rigged and the reviews mean nothing.