A class action lawsuit was filed against Yelp on the grounds that Yelp manipulated online reviews of the plaintiff's businesses in order to coerce the plaintiffs into purchasing advertising from Yelp. The plaintiffs allege that Yelp removes negative reviews of Yelp advertisers, and also removes positive reviews of non-advertisers. Although the District Court for the Northern District of California ultimately dismissed the plaintiff's claims, the court indicated that the Communications Decency Act (CDA) would not preclude liability stemming from Yelp's allegedly deliberate manipulation of customer reviews. The court reasoned that because Yelp's removal of positive users would not be in good faith, CDA immunity would not apply. Nevertheless, the court ultimately concluded that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that any of Yelp's conduct constituted an "implied extortionate threat" and dismissed the claim.

TIP: Remember that the more involved you are with the creation, manipulation, or editing of the posts on your website, the less likely it is that a court will find that the CDA shields you from liability for those posts.