Yelp — the much-maligned 10-year-old review site — has won one of its longest court battles. Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed several class action lawsuits against Yelp that said the company altered business' rankings in exchange for payment. Over the years, many business owners have claimed that when they did not pay for advertising on Yelp, the company would remove positive reviews from a business' pages. Others have sued Yelp for allegedly having reps contact business owners asking for payment to hide or delete negative reviews.
According to Yelp's blog, the court found "no extortion or any other wrongdoing by Yelp." Documents also reveal that the court found claims that Yelp "authored negative reviews" in order to obtain ad revenue implausible. Ultimately, there was "insufficient" evidence that "Yelp attempted to extort them by removing positive user reviews."
While Yelp has won the battle against allegations of extortion, it still faces a slew of lawsuits: Earlier this month, a group of shareholders filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging that the Yelp executives had sold off more than $81 million in "artificially inflated stock" while deceiving shareholders. The company is also facing a lawsuit from avid Yelp users who believe that they should be financially compensated for the reviews they write.