Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman has just released a passionate statement denying all wrongdoing on Yelp’s part, addressing a class action lawsuit filed on Tuesday that purports that Yelp is running an “extortion scheme.”

In the statement, Stoppleman begins by addressing “the long history of people accusing Yelp of monkeying around with reviews,” and then follows with strong assertions that the company “would never do anything to jeopardize” their trust with users. He then concludes that Yelp will fight the lawsuit “vigorously, and we are confident we will prevail.”

The core of Stoppleman’s argument hinges around Yelp’s never-ceasing efforts to maintain the legitimacy of the site and its prized user reviews. To that effect, Stoppleman writes:

“The reason 29 million people used Yelp last month to find a great local business is because of the trust they place in the reviews on our site. The entire value of the Yelp community to consumers and businesses hinges upon that trust — and we would never do anything to jeopardize it. Simply put, Yelp does not remove or hide negative reviews in exchange for money and Yelp salespeople do not offer to do so. Additionally, Yelp treats review content equally for advertisers and non-advertisers alike. Advertisers pay for advertising and enhanced listings, and nothing more; and businesses are not penalized for declining to advertise.”

The lawsuit in question attacks Yelp’s business tactics and suggests that the company tries to stronghold businesses into becoming advertisers in exchange for the removal of negative reviews. The Yelp Class Action Website put out the following statement:

“Yelp runs an extortion scheme in which the company’s employees call businesses demanding monthly payments, in the guise of “advertising contracts,” in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews appearing on the website. The plaintiff, a veterinary hospital in Long Beach, California, asked that Yelp remove a false and defamatory review from the website. In response, as set forth in the lawsuit, Yelp refused to take down the review. Instead, the company’s sales representatives repeatedly contacted the hospital and demanded a roughly $300 per-month payment in exchange for hiding or removing the negative review.”

As Stoppleman points out this is not the not the first time the company has been questioned for unscrupulous behaviors alleged in lawsuits. He asserts that despite the bad press however, the company continues to forge ahead.

[img credit: Barbary Coast Ranger]

Reviews: Yelp

Tags: Jeremy Stoppleman, lawsuit, user reviews, yelp