Home Lawsuit Accusing Yelp of “Implied Extortion” Dismissed

Lawsuit Accusing Yelp of “Implied Extortion” Dismissed

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit accusing local business review site Yelp of extortion. The lawsuit made a number of allegations against Yelp, accusing it of acting in a way that added up to “implied extortion,” wherein businesses were said to be treated differently on the site according to whether or not they advertised with Yelp.

Today, a judge dismissed the lawsuit on a number of grounds, including that some allegations were “entirely speculative.”

According to Eric Goldman, a professor of law at Santa Clara University, the case isn’t quite over yet, as the plaintiffs can amend their complaint, but the intro to the dismissal seems to be clear in its idea.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel’s dismissed the case, writing “this case is nothing more than an improper attempt to stifle consumer opinions about Plaintiff’s businesses and defeat the broad immunity afforded to online services like Yelp’s that provide a forum for protected consumer speech.”

Goldman says that Judge Patel breaks down the complaint into four groups – that Yelp removed positive reviews after the plaintiff declined to purchase ads, that Yelp kept reviews in violation of its TOS, manufactured its own negative reviews and that it told the plaintiff that paying for ads would improve its rating on the site.

The judge decided that several of these complains were “entirely speculative.” On the second allegation – that Yelp maintained negative reviews in spite of its TOS – Judge Patel writes that “Yelp cannot be held liable on a theory that it extorted plaintiffs by refusing to de-publish negative business reviews.”

If the plaintiff can add more details to convince the judge that their complaints have merit, however, the case could feasibly move on from there.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.