Yelp Battles To Keep Local Reviewers Anonymous

CBS MoneyWatch › Erik Sherman

Local business review site Yelp (YELP) is embroiled in a legal fight with a Virginia-based cleaning company. Potentially at stake: the ability for people to leave anonymous reviews without having their identities uncovered by an angry company owner.

Joe Hadeed of Hadeed In-Home and Office Cleaning Services allegedly found a string of negative reviews in 2012 that he blamed for a 30 percent drop in work, according to The Wall Street Journal. In a case headed to the Virginia Supreme Court, Hadeed is suing seven anonymous negative reviewers and insisting that Yelp identify them.

To this point, state courts have sided with Hadeed and held Yelp in contempt for not providing the names. Yelp argues that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the reviews and the rights of the people who placed them to remain anonymous.