If that Yelp review sounds like it was written by a nine-year-old, it might actually have been: According to Bloomberg, the review site was forced to fork over $450,000 to settle a suit accusing it of collecting data from children without parental consent. The Federal Trade Commission alleges that between 2009 and 2013, Yelp "violated privacy laws" by allowing children under 13 to sign up for the site. PCWorld writes that before 2009, users could only register for a Yelp account through the website which had a "screening mechanism" that prevented those under the age of 13 from signing up. However, when Yelp introduced its mobile app, it "failed to implement" a working age-screening mechanism, which allowed children to sign up.
Yelp claims in a blog post that the situation was due to a "bug" in its mobile registration process. Yelp added that "only about 0.02 percent of users who actually completed Yelp's registration process during this time period provided an underage birth date." the company notes that it closed the under-age accounts and fixed the problem. Under the settlement, Yelp must also destroy the personal information of children under 13 who registered.
The review site has faced an onslaught of legal issues as of late: Last month, shareholders slapped Yelp with a class action lawsuit alleging that they had been defrauded. Yelp users also re-filed a lawsuit against the company arguing that Yelp should "monetarily compensate its users." Last week, a New York City steakhouse sued the company in order to acquire contact info for a commenter on the site.