California Supreme Court: Yelp can't be ordered to take down negative posts

California Supreme Court: Yelp can't be ordered to take down negative posts
© Getty Images

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that Yelp.com can’t be forced to remove negative posts on the reviews site, overturning a lower court ruling. 

NBC News reported that judges on the California Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of Yelp. The majority opinion argued that forcing online publishers to remove material “could interfere with and undermine the viability of an online platform.”

An attorney for Yelp praised the decision, calling it a victory for “those of us who value sharing one another’s opinions and experiences."

“With this decision, online publishers in California can be assured that they cannot be lawfully forced to remove third-party speech through enterprising abuses of the legal system,” Yelp deputy counsel Aaron Schur wrote in a blog post on the company’s site.

ADVERTISEMENT

Dawn Hassell, a San Francisco attorney, had filed a lawsuit in 2013 arguing that a former client defamed her on Yelp by posting a false claim about their attorney-client relationship. 

A lower court judge ruled the comment was defamatory, and ordered Yelp to remove it. After a second court upheld that ruling, the California Supreme Court sided with Yelp on Monday.

The ruling was handed down as a growing number of liberals and conservatives turn to Yelp as a way to seize on cultural controversies. The site was flooded with comments after The Red Hen restaurant in Virginia refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last month.

Liberals posted favorable reviews on the restaurant's Yelp page, while conservatives posted negative ones.