My Texas Startup Got Yelped!
Jan. 8, 2015
Yelp And Your Startup Reputation
Yelp is stirring up controversies, and even law firms have difficulty with negative Yelp Reviews. It is challenging for companies to combat a bad Yelp review. A brief review of the law will help you understand when using the law to fight a bad review may be the best option. More often, recognizing that the criticism elicited emotions, choosing to act with clever integrity, and behaving with old-fashioned customer service are better and cheaper ways to combat negative yelp reviews.
Libel or Free Speech
Libel is a false and defamatory statement of fact about a specific group or person. There are entire books and courses on the specifics and exceptions to this rule. Determining a point or opinion is the issue that gets the most attention from Yelp reviews. Reporting that “I hated the food” is obviously an opinion, and even opinions stated as fact, such as “The food is awful,” are typically regarded as opinions. Having an opinion is not illegal, so says the First Amendment.
Texas, and 29 other states, have Anti-Slapp (or laws prohibiting a strategic lawsuit against public participation in free speech) laws. The Texas statutes are typical and allow a judge to dismiss a frivolous case, and the petitioner need only prove that the suit was filed in response to someone exercising their free speech. The website SlappedInTexas.com does an excellent job explaining this.
Remember you need to prove damages to file a law suite. In my experience, it is nearly impossible to establish a causal connection between a bad Yelp review and a profit decline. Often, the evidence as strongly leads to evidence showing that declining customer service led to the bad Yelp review.
The following websites are also beneficial in determining if your bad Yelp review is worth pursuing legal action: