The Federal Trade Commission has officially shut down its investigation of controversial review site Yelp. According to Yelp's blog, the FTC "concluded a deep inquiry" of Yelp's business practices and informed the company that they would "not be taking any action" after nearly a year of investigations.
The FTC started looking into the review site after it a received complaints from restaurants that Yelp was manipulating reviews. Multiple restaurants have accused the company of removing positive reviews from their business' page if they did not pay for advertising. Others have alleged that reps for Yelp have contacted them to ask for payment in exchange for hiding or even deleting negative reviews. Many even filed class action lawsuits, but earlier this month the cases were dismissed by the U.S Court of Appeals which found "no extortion or wrong doing by Yelp."
While the company has always been adamant that it does not manipulate reviews — noting on its blog that it "strives to provide trustworthy content to consumers" — a court recently ruled that legally, Yelp is still free to do so in the future.
On a positive note, a growing number of government agencies have been using the review site for good. The NYC health department has turned to Yelp to help track potential foodborne illness outbreaks and the NYPD even used the restaurant review site to hunt for a suspect in a crime.