Every butcher, baker, and candlestick maker who has ever contemplated the dark arts of online reputation management should take note: The seemingly benign practice of posting fake business reviews isn’t so benign these days.
A month ago Yelp (YELP), sued a San Diego lawyer for planting fake reviews about his solo practice in California state court. Today, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a deal with 19 businesses that agreed to stop writing fake reviews and pay more than $350,000 in penalties. Yelp and Schneiderman, powerful players stooping to take on local business owners, each asserted that posting fake reviews violates false advertising laws.
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