is Extorting Businesses? is a popular website that I have advocated for on this site and countless times to my friends, family, and other online contacts.

The idea of is simple: it’s an online site where anyone can leave a review on any business or address. For example, are you looking for a Chinese restaurant in NE Portland, Oregon? Yelp can help steer you in the direction of one and give you first-hand reviews of patrons to help form your opinion.

However, according to the East Bay Express, the newspaper has found many instances of sales people calling restaurants and, for a price, offering to move negative reviews down on the page.

This would make the business appear more appealing because, to an unknowing Yelp user, the positive reviews for the restaurant would bubble to the top, making that restaurant’s reviews more favorable.

This is outright EXTORTION with a capital E, if the allegations are true! Depending on how this shakes out, I may stop Yelping immediately.

I have some contacts at Yelp and will be following up with what I find out!

UPDATE:’s CEO responded with a blog post.