Freedom of speech is protected both online and offline. As a result, online reviewers are well within their rights to express their opinions (ranging from "I love the ambiance" to "The cashier was rude to me") and relate their true experiences ("I ordered the shrimp scampi" and "The doctor wouldn't accept my insurance").
For businesses that want to thank a reviewer or share their side of the story, we offer a free Yelp Business Account which, among other things, allows businesses to publicly respond to reviews and directly message reviewers. In our experience, reviewers usually like to hear from well-intentioned businesses who are legitimately interested in listening to customer concerns.
Businesses can also report a review if they think it violates Yelp’s Content Guidelines.
As with anything, there will always be those who try to solve their problems in court by suing people who post negative comments about their businesses. Few of these lawsuits have ever met with any success, and the media tends to focus its attention on the negative comments that the business hoped to hide from public view by suing the reviewer.
If you, as a reviewer, have been threatened with a lawsuit, we urge you to check your facts and make sure you can still stand behind your review. If not, we advise you to remove it. Please contact an attorney if you are actually sued, and know that we will be quick to cooperate with your attorney as best we can. You should also let us know by contacting our Support team.