That was my perception. And now my perception has been validated by a so-far successful lawsuit in Virginia brought by a small business owner afflicted with bad Yelp reviews which the businessman suspected were phony.
As the Times article (“Bad Yelp Reviews End Up in Court”) by David Streitfeld points out, this could open the door to many other lawsuits against Yelp.
Give a read — Carpet Bombing: How One Business Is Trying to Get Rid of Bad Reviews – NYTimes.com. —and think about it before you give Yelp any credence in determining where you shop or eat.
It’s interesting, too, because it pits the First Amendment right to free speech, i.e., saying anything you like, versus defamation. That is, yes you can say anything you like but if it comes under the legal strictures of defamation, you could be sued for saying it.