The Supreme Court has rejected a case regarding whether or not Yelp is responsible for allegedly defamatory reviews on its platform.
According to a report from The Verge, the Supreme Court has declined a case that would have determined whether or not review platforms like Yelp are liable for defamatory comments on their site.
The site employs a team of agents that manually remove defamatory complaints from their platform. However, removal takes place only at the discretion of these agents. Some business owners argue that the platform is liable for defamatory reviews that aren’t removed.
After the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Yelp, an ally to President Trump urged the court to hear the case via a petition.
Hassell v. Bird was filed in 2016 as a complaint against one of Hassell’s former clients, not Yelp. However, Yelp protested a court order to remove the reviews, arguing that it was protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. (Yelp has said it independently removes reviews it finds to be defamatory since they violate its terms of service.) Lower courts disagreed, but in mid-2018, the California Supreme Court ruled in Yelp’s favor. Then, the firm of Charles Harder — a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team who’s known for high-profile defamation lawsuits — petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a complaint against Yelp.
In a statement, a Yelp spokesperson said that the company is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case.
“We are happy to see the Supreme Court has ended Hassell’s efforts to sidestep the law to compel Yelp to remove online reviews. This takes away a tool that could have been easily abused by litigants to obtain easy removal of entirely truthful consumer opinions,” the spokesperson said.
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