Early last year, a story in the East Bay Express reported that review site Yelp's ad sales force was using hardball tactics that amount to extortion
— essentially, suggesting that negative reviews would remain prominent on the Yelp page for a particular restaurant or other business, unless the business bought advertising through Yelp, in which case Yelp could "do something" about the negative reviews. In a recent interview with the New York Times (the questions seem rather softball, but they do address this issue), Yelp co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman says it just isn't so
, and blames unhappiness by business owners with the review site on the site's "automated and algorithmic" review-filtering system, which he describes as "counterintuitive." Stoppelman also says that Yelp's advertising salesmen have no connection to that filtering system, which doesn't quite answer the question of whether the salesmen claimed
to be able to influence the reviews displayed, as some business owners allege. Updated 22:09 GMT by timothy:
As reader AKMask
points out below (now corrected above), that's the East Bay Express, rather than the East Bay Examiner.