You May Soon Have to Think Twice Before Posting a Nasty Yelp Review

I'd give it zero stars if I could.
I'd give it zero stars if I could.Photo: Yelp

The Virginia Court of Appeals ruled this week that First Amendment rights didn’t extend to a group of seven Yelp users who used the site to post negative reviews of an Alexandria-based carpet-cleaning company. Business owner Joe Hadeed argued that the bad reviews, which complained of deceptive advertising and bad service, were not actually written by any customers in his database, and therefore the remarks don’t qualify as free speech. The court agreed: Yelp will now have to turn over user information associated with the users. In those cases, wrote Judge William G. Petty, “the review is not an opinion; instead, the review is based on a false statement.” A representative for Yelp denounced the state’s “efforts to silence online critics,” and the implications are obvious: One day soon, perhaps, chefs and restaurateurs may be able to seek subpoenas anytime someone really trashes their soups. [Washington Times]