The article includes the following:
For a while, online reviewers have been free to say whatever they like about businesses without much in the way of fact-checking by the review websites that host their comments.
And because review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Angie’s List often refuse to remove negative reviews without a court injunction, many businesses resort to responding to reviewers personally through the sites.
But others, like Deitz, have decided to cut out the middle man and lawyer up — no doubt because sites like Yelp are exerting increasing influence over consumers' buying decisions, from which plumber to hire to fix a leaky toilet to which spa to patronise to get a massage.
Thanks to their efforts, anonymity as an online reviewer may be a thing of the past.
In a major win for business owners in the US, a Virginia appeals court ruled earlier this month that Yelp must reveal the identities of seven users who wrote negative reviews of a local carpet cleaning business.
In that case, the customers weren't actually patrons of the shop, business owner claimed, which made their reviews false statements rather than opinions protected by the First Amendment. Yelp wasn't happy about the ruling, but they forked over the names anyway.