Wow, what a story. I first heard about this on “Today In Social Media“, hosted by Clayton Morris. Picture this as part of your business model: Charge businesses to remove negative word of mouth from your high traffic web site. According to allegations, this actually happened!
Let me back up and fill in the blanks. Have you heard of Yelp.com. The site allows average people like you and me to provide reviews for restaurants, spas, bars, stores and other retail storefronts. I have personally provided reviews of restaurants. It is a great tool for locating places of interest. I love Monocle. It allows the user of an iPhone (or BlackBerry and other smartphones) to visually locate site of interest. I have the site to locate specific stores, restaurants, and other entertainment. It is great to read what others share about places of interest, especially people in my network.
Now back to those ugly allegations: Reports are that Yelp has offered to remove (or modify?) negative reviews in exchange for a fee. Yahoo reported that Yelp would remove ‘bad’ reviews in return for money. “Advertise with Yelp and your star rating goes up.” If this is true, it is sad! The truth will certainly come out in the court system, but this is disturbing. Can you trust the feedback on Yelp if it is being ‘adjusted’ based on a fee? What do you think? I am hopeful that this is somehow a mistake.