One of the most popular Web sites that let people post opinions about restaurants, shops and local services is being sued by several small businesses. These businesses claim that the site, Yelp, pressured them to advertise in exchange for getting negative reviews squashed.
Since late February, at least three lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed against the site by a dozen companies. They complain that reviews on Yelp are manipulated depending on which companies advertise on the site and which ones do not.
Yelp denies the claims and says the businesses that are suing don't understand how Yelp works. Yelp says some reviews might come and go because it relies on an automated program to weigh reviews and filter out ones that might be untrustworthy.