Yelp Gives Reviewer for Hire a Harsh Critique
VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - An anonymous Yelp user is cutting into advertising revenue by posting fake reviews of businesses for a fee, the website claims in court.
California-based Yelp Inc. claims in B.C. Supreme Court that the North Vancouver man uses a range of aliases to post fake reviews on its site. Yelp claims John Doe has entered into deals with businesses with Yelp accounts to boost their ratings on the site with fake reviews.
"Yelp's business relies on the integrity of the customer reviews, so that people have confidence in using Yelp to evaluate local businesses," the complaint states. "The more reliable the reviews, the greater Yelp's traffic."
The anonymous defendant also allegedly solicits people online and pays people to post fake reviews. Yelp says when it asked him to stop, the man threatened to keep posting the fake reviews unless Yelp paid him.
Posting fake reviews for compensation violates the site's terms of service because fake reviews cause "the general public to mistrust the authenticity of Yelp reviews or to otherwise avoid using the Yelp Site," the complaint states.
The defendant has also been a "nuisance" to Yelp because fake reviews mean "the general public will be unable to discern which Yelp reviews are genuine."
Yelp wants an injunction to prohibit the man from posting more fake reviews to the website. The company is represented by Daniel Burnett with Owen Bird Law.