Virginia’s Supreme Court ruled earlier that Yelp is obligated to not reveal the identities of online users accused by a business owner of posting fraud and negative feedback about his carpet-cleaning firm.
The dispute before the Supreme Court in Virginia describes a complaint brought about by Joe Hadeed, a business owner of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc. in Springfield, Virginia, who claimed his business was bombarded with harsh reviews in 2012. He filed a suit against several online reviewers for defamation and demanded Yelp to reveal their true identities.
Hadeed believed that the posted reviews were made by fellow competitors and says his sales took a nose dive after negative comments were posted online. Yelp argued that without proof, users had the First Amendment right to post without revealing their identity.
The state trial court and Court of Appeals sided with Hadeed, holding Yelp responsible for contempt for not revealing the identities of users.
Justices looking into the case felt that the lower court lacked the authority for revealing the Yelp reviewers.