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antdude
A Ninja Ant
Premium,VIP
join:2001-03-25
United State
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

YELP critics must be identified, court rules in online landscape altering...

»www.washingtontimes.com/news/201···n-negat/ from »www.hardocp.com/news/2014/01/09/···ntified/

Privacy is going away.


Midniteoyl

join:2013-11-22
Knox, IN
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Good.. 'bad reviews' from competitors happens all the time..



EGeezer
Go Cats
Premium
join:2002-08-04
Midwest
kudos:8
Reviews:
·Callcentric

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to antdude

said by antdude:

Privacy is going away.

Yeah, there are lots of businesses that would like to eliminate criticism.

If “the reviewer was never a customer of the business, then the review is not an opinion; instead, the review is based on a false statement” and not subject to First Amendment protection, the opinion stated.


The opinion does narrow the decision quite a bit, but it could still lead to identification and harassment of legitimate reviewers by a business.

If the court allows a court appointed third party to compare customer lists with the reviewer's names, a legitimate reviewer's identity would be protected.

On a related privacy note, this at the bottom of the Washington Times article;


Comments
Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. blog comments powered by Disqus


Don't think I'll be commenting over there.
--
»www.flickr.com/photos/egeezer/


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable
reply to antdude

said by antdude:

Privacy is going away.

Fear not antdude See Profile, the truth shall set you free!

"However, the court said that First Amendment rights do not cover deliberately false statements"


nwrickert
sand groper
Premium,MVM
join:2004-09-04
Geneva, IL
kudos:7

4 recommendations

reply to antdude

Anonymity is not the same thing as privacy.

I'll watch what happens. But it is too early to hit the panic button.
--
AT&T Uverse; Buffalo WHR-300HP router (behind the 2wire gateway); openSuSE 12.3; firefox 24.0



Kilroy
Premium,MVM
join:2002-11-21
Saint Paul, MN
reply to antdude

Not seeing this as a major big deal. If someone is willing to spend the time and effort to go to court to have the names revealed, fine. This isn't an across the board ruling that no one can be anonymous. It allows someone who believes that the reviews are false to find out who posted them. If the review is from an actual customer and they take action against them, then there may be a worry. If they are false and they take action, then this is a good thing.

I don't necessarily agree with this line of reasoning, especially with IPv4 addresses.

said by Raighne Delaney :
"Yelp said that all the posts had different IP addresses, but how many IP addresses does one person have between all their devices?"
--
"Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something." - Robert A. Heinlein


Blackbird
Built for Speed
Premium
join:2005-01-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
reply to antdude

Seems to me that slander or lying have never been Constitutionally-protected forms of speech... or at least, while you may be allowed to utter it, you have to face the consequences if you damage somebody thereby (including rules of "discovery"). So if the reviews are supposed to be from separate real-world customers and aren't, then negative reviews may rise to the level of slander. But, as always, the devil's in the details, and we aren't given all of those in the article (to wit: what is the bottom line on whether the 'customers' making the comments are actually separate and real, and who determines that without betraying privacy?).
--
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. -- A. de Tocqueville



sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

2 recommendations

reply to antdude

Here's a thought.

Make it painful for a company to be wrong if they allege that a critical reviewer was never a customer, and then find out they were in fact a customer.

Perhaps automatically reverse any damages the plaintiff seeks back onto them. Make 'em put their money where their mouth is. And then let the defendant countersue for even more.
--
Oh, Opera, what have you done?



Blackbird
Built for Speed
Premium
join:2005-01-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..

said by sivran:

Here's a thought.

Make it painful for a company to be wrong if they allege that a critical reviewer was never a customer, and then find out they were in fact a customer.

Perhaps automatically reverse any damages the plaintiff seeks back onto them. Make 'em put their money where their mouth is. And then let the defendant countersue for even more.

It seems a dilemma exists for a company in trying to figure out if critics were not customers or there were multiple filings by a single critic, if the complaints were made anonymously. This is why the court was invoked to try to force the disclosure of the critics' identities so the company could review their records.

In reality, there ought to be a court-involved third-party review option (as EGeezer See Profile suggests) to determine that, with expenses paid by the critic if the company is right and by the company if they're not, and the identifying information to be withheld if the critics were indeed customers and separate, but disclosed to the company/court for legal or lawsuit action if they were not. Such a review would, of course, require the company (as well as the complaint forum) to open its records to review by the third-party, (much like in a legal "discovery") - since that's probably the only way the question could be independently answered.
--
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. -- A. de Tocqueville

peterboro
Avatars are for posers
Premium
join:2006-11-03
Ormond Beach, FL
reply to antdude

It's one thing to spend months or years getting a judicial order to force Yelp to disclose an IP and another to enforce it within time to identify an individual.

»Discussion about log retention


PX Eliezer

join:2013-03-10
Outland
kudos:4
Reviews:
·callwithus
·Callcentric
reply to antdude

I'm in a service business myself, and certainly don't want people posting false information, especially if they have never been clients.

OTOH---the man who filed the lawsuit said the reviews were filed by competitors. HOW would he know that?

Websites should let a business respond to specific posts, and/or post a general statement.

People can usually tell when something is real or BS, whether posted by a purported customer or by the business owner.

And as with TripAdvisor hotel reviews, or even with reviews here on the DSLR website, the preponderance of opinion is what matters....

»/reviews
»/gbu



DarkSithPro

join:2005-02-12
Tempe, AZ
kudos:2
reply to antdude

So if you're going to write a negative review on yelp use a proxy


peterboro
Avatars are for posers
Premium
join:2006-11-03
Ormond Beach, FL

said by DarkSithPro:

So if you're going to write any review anywhere use a proxy

Fixed.

Midniteoyl

join:2013-11-22
Knox, IN
kudos:1
reply to PX Eliezer

problem is this is only 7 'people'. Appearently there are many more reveiws, with some bad, that he has no problems with. Its just these that seem 'not from customers'.



Kilroy
Premium,MVM
join:2002-11-21
Saint Paul, MN
reply to DarkSithPro

said by DarkSithPro:

So if you're going to write a negative review on yelp use a proxy

I guess I'm just not seeing it. I'm a firm believer that if you get good service you will tell all of your friends, if you get bad service you will tell anyone who will listen. If I post a bad review, there is a solid reason behind it. I think people are more likely to post a bad review than a good review. We all like to complain, but all too often we don't take the time to tell people that they did a good job.
--
"Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something." - Robert A. Heinlein


anonome

@verizon.net
reply to Midniteoyl

said by Midniteoyl:

Its just these that seem 'not from customers'.

Well... he must be psychic. (I see a new business opportunity in his future.)


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

said by anonome :

said by Midniteoyl:

Its just these that seem 'not from customers'.

Well... he must be psychic. (I see a new business opportunity in his future.)

No, not psychic, just a good business manager.
Not being able to match a specific complaint with an actual event is a pretty good clue that the complaint is not real.
Add in complaints that simply couldn't have occurred & it's not difficult to pinpoint the bogus reviews.

e.g., A complaint of showing up late in Rockland when your company doesn't service the Rockland area.


DownTheShore
Russia Lies, Ukraine Dies
Premium
join:2003-12-02
Beautiful NJ
kudos:13
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL
reply to antdude

I was reading the complaints about him on Yelp and a lot of them seemed to involve bait-and-switch in regard to the pricing of the cleaning service. The company was hired because of either an advertised price or the price quoted by the employee who accepted the carpet for cleaning, and then the final price was higher because of extra cleaning, stubborn spots, etc. A contributing factor seems to be that the company went ahead and cleaned the carpet before verifying with the customer that they were willing to pay that extra amount.

Seemed to me that a better quoting system and a binding contract with safeguards for both parties in case of additional costs would eliminate the majority of the bad reviews.
--
Patriotism is not waving a flag, it is living the ideals

I want to retire to the Isle of Sodor and ride the trains.

Life is just better when Jeter is in the lineup.



BKayrac
Premium
join:2001-09-29
Madison, WI

said by DownTheShore:

I was reading the complaints about him on Yelp and a lot of them seemed to involve bait-and-switch in regard to the pricing of the cleaning service. The company was hired because of either an advertised price or the price quoted by the employee who accepted the carpet for cleaning, and then the final price was higher because of extra cleaning, stubborn spots, etc. A contributing factor seems to be that the company went ahead and cleaned the carpet before verifying with the customer that they were willing to pay that extra amount.

Seemed to me that a better quoting system and a binding contract with safeguards for both parties in case of additional costs would eliminate the majority of the bad reviews.

Thats a big no-no.

I actually did carpet cleaning for a while. After the meet and greet, I would measure everything out, get a price, and discuss any trouble spots/issues I noticed, then if I thought it might be more I would discuss that with them first. Sometimes I needed to charge extra, and sometimes I thought I would, but didn't.

If something was found later, you would grab the client, and let them know the situation before wasting your time doing stuff and charging more.

Not to mention why bother trying to screw the customer, very rarely would you have a job that would be worth taking to court, so even if they didn't pay, your recourse was absolutely nothing other than not bothering if they tried to use your service again.

In my 5-6 months of doing it, I only ever encountered 1 bad client, other than that, everyone was happy. So my assumption would be that his business is run like crap, and his negative reviews are deserved.

Midniteoyl

join:2013-11-22
Knox, IN
kudos:1
reply to DownTheShore

This is normal for ALL carpet cleaning companies..



BKayrac
Premium
join:2001-09-29
Madison, WI

said by Midniteoyl:

This is normal for ALL carpet cleaning companies..

Overcharging customers past what you agree'd to, without consulting them first is NOT normal for all companies.

You can read my post directly above yours to refute your statement.

Midniteoyl

join:2013-11-22
Knox, IN
kudos:1

Every single one I have dealt with have. Even restoration services. I own/have owned many houses/duplexes.

Obviously, the worst offenders are the '$99 Whole House' Sunday flyer people, but even 'reputable' ones have up charged. Every single time.


PX Eliezer

join:2013-03-10
Outland
kudos:4

I have dealt with carpet-cleaning companies and had no problems.

Maybe it is different in your community.

Also, I try to choose companies based on personal recommendations from people I know.



TopShelf

join:2010-06-25
reply to Kilroy

said by Kilroy:

If someone is willing to spend the time and effort to go to court to have the names revealed, fine.


Gene Cooley was willing to find out who posted untrue allegations about him on Topix after the murder of his fiancee.

»abcnews.go.com/Technology/topix-···age=true

said by Raighne Delaney :
"Yelp said that all the posts had different IP addresses, but how many IP addresses does one person have between all their devices?"
I'll gander a guess that Denise Ballew will think long and hard before ever posting another slanderous comment on Topix. She made multiple identities to post on Topix.
--
The only thing North Korea could wipe out in four minutes is a South Korean all-you-can-eat buffet.


linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2002-12-03
United State
Reviews:
·TracFone Wireless
·CenturyLink
reply to antdude

I have had two different experiences with Yelp. In one I posted a negative review of a store because I was tired of having items from overstocked shelves fall on me, or barely miss me. The reviewer that followed a year later sounded more like a personal attack from a former employee. I sent it to Yelp and they agreed.

I recently posted a scathing review of a company that sold me nearly five grand worth of products and did not want to repair or honor the warranty. I paid someone else to fix what they claim had to be replaced. The difference in cost was $750 vs. $25.

Other than these two my reviews have been solid.
--
Mac: No windows, No Gates, Apple inside



shortckt
Watchen Das Blinken Lights
Premium
join:2000-12-05
Tenant Hell
reply to antdude

The court's decision has a chilling effect on free speech, erodes first amendment rights and will only hurt American hosting providers in the long run as review sites dodge the bullet by relocating their servers to other countries in an attempt to distance themselves from the jurisdiction of US courts.

I'm not saying that all review sites will immediately relocate, but after any web-based business suffers the expense of handling an unwelcome legal discovery proceding or is the target of a SLAPP suit they might reconsider staying in the US.

FWIW I disagree with the court's leading opinion that speech which is not an opinion is not protected speech, "...comments were not protected First Amendment opinions if the Yelp users were not customers and thus were making false claims...". That which is not a stating of known facts is by definition someone's opinion... sometimes an educated opinion and sometimes not but nevertheless an opinion.

At the risk of an overly simplistic example, if I have never been a customer of the pizza restaurant down the street but based on only having walked by and looked in the window I decide that I will never eat anything from there and I reduce that thought to writing on a review site I have put forth my opinion on that business. That is protected speech, however according to that court's decision it should not be, and the pizza restaurant could have legal basis for discovering my identity.

To further the point, if I then add that the pizza restaurant uses horse meat to make their pizzas that also is protected speech. That last part of my opinion might later subject me to charges of slander, but that is a separate result and should not affect my protections under the first amendment since what I stated is still my opinion although it may turn out to be false.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

said by shortckt:

The court's decision has a chilling effect on free speech, ...

Your post reply had a chilling effect on me.
Were at polar opposites on this.


Blackbird
Built for Speed
Premium
join:2005-01-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..

2 recommendations

reply to shortckt

said by shortckt:

...FWIW I disagree with the court's leading opinion that speech which is not an opinion is not protected speech, "...comments were not protected First Amendment opinions if the Yelp users were not customers and thus were making false claims...". That which is not a stating of known facts is by definition someone's opinion. ...

Your definition is upside down. An opinion is actually defined as "a belief stronger than an impression but weaker than positive knowledge". If claims to be a customer of a business are made when a claimant knows he's not a customer, that is not "opinion" because it has nothing to do with belief unless the claimant is delusional... it is instead a fabrication, a willful misrepresentation and a lie. To place a comment in that forum was to claim to be a customer of the business involved according to the forum's TOS, and so it is an issue of truth or falsehood, not belief or opinion. To claim that a service was defective when the service never existed is an issue of truth or falsehood, not belief or opinion. The question at hand in the ruling is whether certain of the forum comments were based in truth or lies, not whether they involve 'opinion'. The business seeks to establish they are lies by proving that the commenter was never a customer and/or the services were never provided as claimed, but that can only be proven by comparing the identity of the commenter(s) with the business's records of their customers and the details of actual services provided.

It is my belief that the court was correct in requiring the forum to divulge whatever it knew about the source(s) of the comments. I also believe it was in error if that disclosure was to be made directly to the business, since it would risk disclosing innocent complainants. The forum's disclosure should instead be made to the court (or a court-appointed expert 3rd party) who should compare the business's service records with the forum comments and whatever identity of the commenter that can ultimately be deduced from the forum's disclosure to the court or its agent. If the 3rd party determines the comments appeared to be illegitimate, then a lawsuit could be properly directed against the appropriate false commenter(s) and court costs of the investigation assessed to those offending commenter(s). If the comments were not determined to be illegitimate, then the forum's disclosed records would remain sealed or be destroyed to protect legitimate commenters, with court costs (and possibly sanctions) to be borne by the business.
--
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. -- A. de Tocqueville


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

said by Blackbird:

It is my belief that the court was correct in requiring the forum to divulge whatever it knew about the source(s) of the comments. I also believe it was in error if that disclosure was to be made directly to the business, since it would risk disclosing innocent complainants. The forum's disclosure should instead be made to the court ...

Nice overview of the situation.
re custody of the PII
"“The Virginia statute makes the judge a gatekeeper to decide whether or not there’s a common-sense reason for someone in our position to get this information,”

It doesn't directly say it but it's a reasonable assumption that the disclosure is at least a 2 part process - The Judge gets the PII - then determines if plaintiff's lawyer gets them too.
I'm sure if a few real customers were in that list the Judge wouldn't disclose who they were or might even not disclose any of them, close is good enough to squash, I hope.


neochu

join:2008-12-12
Windsor, ON

said by Snowy:

"“The Virginia statute makes the judge a gatekeeper to decide whether or not there’s a common-sense reason for someone in our position to get this information,”

It doesn't directly say it but it's a reasonable assumption that the disclosure is at least a 2 part process - The Judge gets the PII - then determines if plaintiff's lawyer gets them too.
I'm sure if a few real customers were in that list the Judge wouldn't disclose who they were or might even not disclose any of them, close is good enough to squash, I hope.

I suspect that as well. Considering both sources have not linked to the ACTUAL text of the case it is probably an order to turn over to the court rather then the plaintiff.

Sensationalism makes determining the legal elements of the case very difficult for those who are in the know about the law. People and the media automatically take a "pesecution complex" and claim the state is victimizing them the minute a case or law does not go in the way they want.

Of course any false lawsuits can and do lead to counter-suits and legal costs for any defendants.