Yelp must identify seven anonymous reviewers who left negative reviews for a carpet-cleaning business, a Virginia appeals court ruled.
With approximately 102 million unique visitors every month, the Yelp website allows users to post and read reviews of local businesses. Anyone who posts a review is required to have actually been a customer of the business in question, pursuant to Yelp's Terms of Service.
To review a business on Yelp, a user must register and provide Yelp with a valid email address. While Yelp does not require users to register with their real name, it records the IP address of every user who posts.
In July 2012, Yelp displayed 75 reviews of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning in Alexandria, Va., a number of which were negative.
After finding no record that the reviewers were actual Hadeed customers from a review of its customer database, Hadeed claimed that the negative reviews were false and defamatory.