In the Chronicle's alarmist rush to highlight the supposed risks of online review writing they missed that a Yelp user has already won a lawsuit challenging her right to post a negative review: Styger v. Johnson, Superior Court of California, Case No. CGC-08-477322. In four years and after 4.5 million consumer reviews, we're aware of 3 business owners actually suing a customer.
June 8th: The Chronicle's front page covers a year old lawsuit pertaining to a negative Yelp review, blasting "Negative Yelp review triggers defamation suit".
Jan 9th: Columnist Andrew Ross takes sides in the lawsuit without knowing the facts of the case declaring "If I'm ever looking for a furniture designer, it won't be [the reviewer]."
Jan 13th: Chronicle highlights another lawsuit (filed a year after the previous) with the headline "Dentist sues over negative Yelp review". Thanks to the headline and placement, this story is undoubtedly perceived by readers as a "trend". In this case a dentist (Dr. Wong) doesn't even go on record as disputing the facts of the review.
We at Yelp stand strongly behind consumers recognizing their right to speak truthfully about their experiences (positive or negative). In America it's called protected speech and the editors and columnists of the Chronicle enjoy this right daily. 85% of the reviews on Yelp are positive (3+ stars), so the few who are brave enough to share bad experiences with the rest of us deserve our support for the value they provide the wider local community.
Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO