Defamation is Not Free Speech
Small business owners have rights to protect their hard-earned reputations
"Generally, a Yelp review is entitled to First Amendment protection because it is a person’s opinion about a business that they patronized. But this general protection relies upon an underlying assumption of fact: that the reviewer was a customer of the specific company and he posted his review based on his personal experience with the business. If this underlying assumption of fact proves false, in that the reviewer was never a customer of the business, then the review is not an opinion; instead, the review is based on a false statement of fact—that the reviewer is writing his review based on personal experience. And 'there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact.'”
Small Businesses Are Fighting Back!
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“Yelp has tried to suggest that my case about fraudulent reviews is about free speech. Two courts have said it is not. Freedom of speech is a foundation of American democracy. My father and grandfather fought in two foreign wars to preserve our rights as Americans. But defamatory comments are not protected speech -- and they never have been, on the Internet or anywhere else.”
“Perhaps Yelp is doing a public service by alerting the public to problems at small businesses. Or perhaps Yelp is simply the greatest device ever created for one person to slander another.”