Yelp stars and reviews, which can spell life or death for a local business, have been subject to scrutiny practically since the review site launched in 2004. Faked positive reviews, preferential treatment for advertisers–the allegations have kept on coming, even as the company issued denials.
Now, despite over 2,000 complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission between 2008 and March 2014, Yelp is reasserting the integrity of its operations. Yesterday the company revealed that it had been cooperating with the FTC in a year-long investigation that examined everything from how sales teams promote ads to how safeguards prevent employees from manipulating search results. The FTC’s conclusion: nothing amiss.
“The reason millions of people around the world use Yelp every day to find great local businesses is because they trust the content,” spokesperson Vince Sollitto wrote in a company blog post. “That’s why we take so many steps to prevent gaming of our system and to protect consumers and business owners alike — and why we would never do anything to jeopardize that trust.”
The company also said that none of the lawsuits filed by disgruntled business owners have been successful.
After the Wall Street Journal broke news of the FTC complaints in April 2014, Yelp shares tumbled from their peak of $101.75. Yesterday trading closed at $52.44.