Va. court rules Yelp has to reveal identities of anonymous negat - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Va. court rules Yelp has to reveal identities of anonymous negative reviewers of carpet cleaner

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Ever feel moved to give negative feedback about a restaurant, company or product online, anonymously? What if the company knew who you were?

A new court ruling involving an Alexandria-based carpet cleaner could be a game changer for consumer reviews.

Hadeed Carpet Cleaner challenged seven of the anonymous negative reviews about it on Yelp. This week, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled Yelp has to turn over their names.

Some of the reviews claimed Hadeed's $99 promotion is dishonest and when they tried to get carpeting cleaned, their total was jacked way up in a classic example of bait and switch.

Lawyers for the company say the reviewers were never customers and want their names so Hadeed can sue for defamation.

The non-profit advocacy group, Public Citizen, representing Yelp, says reviewers should not have to reveal their identities when expressing opinions protected by the First Amendment. It also says Hadeed should have to at least prove that the reviews were false.

Yelp has asked Public Citizen to appeal the ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court.

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