Yelp Case Demonstrates How To Out Anonymous Speakers

The online consumer review site, Yelp, tried to protect the anonymity of a reviewer who wrote a dismissive piece about accountancy, Montagna & Associates, Inc., for overcharging and harassment. Montagna sued for defamation and requested access to the reviewer’s name. The California Appeals Court agreed Yelp had “standing to assert the First Amendment rights of its anonymous reviewer, Alex M.” citing March’s Glassdoor v. Superior Court decision but ruled because the statements were defamatory, Yelp must turn over its records. The court referred to the ZL Technologies case which states, “‘[w]hen vigorous criticism descends into defamation,’ . . . ‘constitutional protection is no longer available.’

Reuters Electronic Frontier Foundation Yelp vs. Superior Court Glassdoor vs. Superior Court Zl Technologies vs. Glassdoor