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Yelp back in court, only this time to defend anonymous reviewer

(Social Media) Yelp heads back to court over an angry real estate firm demanding a negative reviewer be unmasked and the review be removed. Yelp appears to be digging in their heels.

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Yelp lawyering up for an interesting fight

Do you remember that time you asked for no onions at that diner in Des Moines and your burger was piled to the ceiling with them anyway? And then afterwards, when you made a point to leave them a nasty Yelp review, warning other patrons passing through the area to hit Arby’s instead? Well, that diner remembers. And it might seek legal recompense, short of your head on a pike.
A Yelp user who left a strongly worded and unmistakably negative review of an agent belonging to a real estate firm in Texas could be in danger of being unmasked.

More than a year after the review was posted, the firm filed suit. Apparently, it had done some real damage. The firm’s lawyer called the review defamatory and inaccurate, demanding its removal from Yelp, along with the disclosure of the true identity of the accuser.

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Now, part of Yelp’s appeal is that it bears people’s genuine opinions regarding firsthand experiences with businesses and services. If this user, “Lin,” is speaking the truth, the people of the internet have a right to know.

Yelp dug in their heels, wouldn’t remove review

Yelp maintained that the review didn’t break any of their rules or standards, so they wouldn’t remove it from the site. In addition, they chose to defend Lin’s anonymity unless a valid subpoena was presented.

Well, the firm heard that and cooked up a subpoena, but they made a substantial error: Why would a Texas court case concerning documents located in California call for a subpoena served in Delaware? Someone needs to buy these guys a map.

And then, Yelp objected

Yelp objected the subpoena on the aforementioned grounds, also stating that the firm hasn’t exactly presented “proof of compelling interest,” which is constitutionally necessary to crack the stone wall of anonymity. Additionally, the lawsuit was filed a full 17 months after the comment was made, which noticeably overreaches the 12-month limitations for issues like these in Texas courts. If we’re getting the firm gifts, maybe they might like a calendar, too.

Issues like this probably make internet trolls shake in their boots. Or sandals. Or whatever trolls wear on their feet. Don’t worry, though, keyboard warriors. It looks like Yelp is fighting the good fight, at least from where you’re sitting.

Staff Writer, Johnny Crowder, is a hard working creative with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a deep passion for writing. In his other life, he is the front man for signed metal band, Dark Sermon. He has a wicked sense of humor and might literally die if he goes a day without putting pen to paper.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. NathyRodz

    February 23, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Glad to see that Yelp is defending it’s users from a reviewer who may have given a completely truthful and honest review. Why didn’t this real estate firm just respond to the review? I don’t understand why businesses are so hostile against Yelp and not the other review sites? If it’s a lack of reviews posted on yelp they can put that ‘Review us on Yelp’ sign up in their business or use a solution like https://thereviewsolution.com or demandforce to generate more reviews. Businesses like this need to stop dragging everyone into court and get with the new digital age.

  2. Yelp Lawsuits

    March 19, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Kimzey v. Yelp Inc. – Opening Brief
    ( see Google search )
    Extortion – Libel – False Reviews

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Social Media

Facebook beta features fresh friendly facade you can try out

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is trying to change it’s image, literally. They already changed their logo, now is time for a new design you can see in the beta.

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After sixteen years in the game, Facebook is getting a facelift. Facebook has been working on a redesign for quite some time and they’re finally starting to roll out a beta. Facebook is taking the rollout slow, so it looks like just a few users are seeing the redesign and the rest of us will have to wait. Want to be among the first to test out the new look? Here’s how you can, maybe, make it happen.

If you are one of the lucky few who has been selected to beta test, then getting the new design should be simple. When you log into your account (as if you ever log out) a pop up will prompt you to try out the new beta. If this doesn’t happen, and you’re still feeling optimistic, then turn your eye to the upper right-hand corner of your screen and look for a button labeled “See Facebook Beta.” Still no button, but want to keep the hope alive? Click the drop-down arrow in the right-hand corner of your screen and see if the Facebook Beta option appears in the dropdown. Nothing yet? Tough luck, kid. You have not been chosen.

If the new design is available to you, then Facebook will offer to give you a tour of the new system. The fresh UI aims to simplify the user experience by making the page less cluttered and easier to navigate. Icons will be sleeker and brighter and it should be easier than ever to access your Messenger conversations. And if you decide that you kind of hate the new design, no big deal. Users will have the option to switch back to the classic design, at least while the redesign is still in beta.

Platform redesigns are always a contentious topic of conversation for users. Twitter, in particular, has seen some user drama over its redesigns through the years. Sometimes a redesign will knock out your favorite feature or make a shortcut you used to take in a workflow pointless. And, honestly, sometimes people just don’t like change. Whatever side of the coin you’re on, let us know how you feel about Facebook’s new look.

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Google takes a shot at competing with TikTok, Pinterest videos

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We all love to sit and watch short videos, be they humorous, reactionary, or weird, but here is Googles attempt to get educational with Tangi.

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Tangi screenshot

It’s happened to anyone who’s ever been looking online for how-to help… you click on a likely-sounding YouTube video, only to be greeted by an ad you can’t skip, a whole lot of introductory chit-chat, and three minutes of build-up before you finally see exactly what you need to do to handle your would-be DIY hack.

But what if you could get your answer in 60 seconds or less? It’s the concept behind Tangi, a newly released Google app created in the company’s Area 120 incubator by developer Coco Mao.

Variously described as short-form YouTube, video Pinterest, or TikTok for makers, Tangi was inspired by Mao discovering that her “smartphone challenged” parents were using their devices to watch photography and painting tutorials—and developing new hobbies as a result.

She came back to Google and worked with her team to develop Tangi as a place where such how-to inspiration could be more easily found and taken advantage of. “The name is inspired by the words TeAch aNd Give,” she explained as she introduced the app at the end of January. “’Tangible’—things you can make.”

The philosophy behind Tangi means this is hands-on how-to for the crafty club. The time-lapse heavy videos “could quickly get a point across,” Mao said, “something that used to take a long time to learn with just text and images.”

Videos fall into categories of art, cooking, DIY, fashion and beauty, and lifestyle, and are often accompanied by links to recipes or the maker’s blog or Instagram for more information. Some makers don’t quite have the format down pat yet, but most manage to provide a good balance of visual inspiration and a little more information.

And like Pinterest, Tangi can turn into a time-lapsing rabbit hole of its own. I started with a mere 10-second clip on propagating succulents (I’ve been doing it wrong), which led to a minute on “when succulents stretch” (“etiolation” — new vocabulary word!), which led to a succulent cake which led to a conversation heart cake and before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by and I was watching an exploding heart science Valentine and had washed up at “Yoda one for me.”

While the app has only been out for about a week … and is only available on iOS and the web … it’s already well populated with content from makers and lifestyle bloggers who partnered with Mao’s team during the development process. And though it’s still in closed-beta mode for content creators, users can apply to be on a waitlist to be invited to upload their own work.

There are a few question marks still. No word on when it will be available on Google’s own Android platform, for one thing. While a couple of intrepid contributors are reviewing education apps and dispensing startup advice, its philosophy as stated by team lead Mao may not extend much more beyond the maker and creative fields to include technology and workplace input. And Google doesn’t always support its apps for long.

But it’s fun, simple, and easy on the eyes. As a place to find quick inspiration and direction, Tangi could carve out a niche.

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New Reddit policy on impersonation mimics other social media giants

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Reddit is the latest social media company to change their policy to protect against deepfake impersonation, because of the harm they can cause.

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Reddit is the latest social media company making updates to their rules and policies ahead of the 2020 election. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and now Reddit are all trying to make the social internet a safer place to receive information.

Reddit’s new policy officially bans impersonation with the goal of handling “bad actors who are trying to manipulate Reddit, particularly are issues of great public significance, like elections.”

Deepfakes have become a key topic of conversation the last few years. In the wake of the mass spreading of misinformation during the 2016 presidential election, users have grown wearier than ever of the information they see online. Deepfakes are no longer a niche subject, but an everyday pain point that technology companies are scrambling to control.

In a statement made on r/redditsecurity, Reddit informed users of the change to website policy stating, “Reddit does not allow content that impersonates individuals or entities in a misleading or deceptive manner. This not only includes using a Reddit account to impersonate someone, but also encompasses things such as domains that mimic others, as well as deepfakes or other manipulated content presented to mislead, or falsely attributed to an individual or entity.”

The platform isn’t trying to make a mass change to it’s often humor driven culture. Parody and satire are still allowed forms of impersonation so long as the joke is obvious. Reddit has vowed to always take context into account when looking at cases of user impersonation.

It’s a good sign for society when popular social platforms start taking their role in controlling the spread of false information seriously. Companies like Reddit are in a position to create real change in the way we spread and consume information about major global events.

What’s unclear is how much man power these companies are putting behind their policies. Reddit ends their statement by pointing users to a report form that users can submit if they or someone else is the victim of impersonation. The question users should be asking is how long would it take to get a response or see action on these reports?

Policy changes are great, but if companies are simply throwing them onto their fine print with no resources behind enforcement then it’s not social change, it’s just legal jargon to protect their ass.

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