I disagree with the federal appellate court decision in favor of Yelp

Here’s the entire news item, via AP, in yesterday’s Times:

The online review site Yelp can lower or raise the rating of a business depending on whether it advertises with the company, a federal appeals court ruled in a lawsuit filed by small businesses claiming Yelp used the tactic to try to extort ads from them. Yelp has denied doing that, saying it uses an automated system to cull reviews that determine ratings. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that even if Yelp did manipulate reviews to penalize businesses, the practice would not constitute extortion. The court said businesses did not have a right to positive reviews on Yelp, and that the San Francisco-based company can seek payments for its advertising. One of the businesses that sued, an animal hospital in California, claimed a Yelp representative said the company would hide negative reviews or place them lower on the page in exchange for advertising. The plaintiffs have not decided whether they will appeal.

If I understand this, the Ninth Circuit says it’s OK for Yelp to use its so-called rating system to extort advertising from businesses.

That’s what it says, right?

The plaintiffs should appeal, although if they do, it’s to our corporate-worshiping Supreme Court. So maybe it’s not worth it, but something has to be done about these populist web sites that can, via unchallenged “reviews” by anybody, do such damage to businesses.

Maybe a bunch of injured businesses should sue the people posting these “critiques.”

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