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The Courts Businesses EU Google

Yelp Files New EU Complaint Against Google Over Search Dominance (ft.com) 71

Yelp has filed a complaint with the EU's antitrust watchdog against Google, arguing that the search company has abused its dominance in local search and pressuring Brussels to launch new charges against the tech giant, Financial Times reported Tuesday. From the report: European antitrust authorities fined Google $2.8B in June 2017 for favouring its own shopping service over rival offerings in its search results. Google denied wrongdoing and has appealed that decision. Now Yelp, which provides user ratings, reviews and other information about local businesses, wants Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, to take action against Google for similar alleged abuse in the local search market, according to a copy of the complaint seen by the Financial Times. The move comes days after Yelp founder Jeremy Stopplelman appeared on 60 Minutes to talk about Google's search monopoly. Here's the exchange he had with reporter Steve Kroft: Jeremy Stoppelman: If I were starting out today, I would have no shot of building Yelp. That opportunity has been closed off by Google and their approach.
Steve Kroft: In what way?
Jeremy Stoppelman: Because if you provide great content in one of these categories that is lucrative to Google, and seen as potentially threatening, they will snuff you out.
Steve Kroft: What do you mean snuff you out?
Jeremy Stoppelman: They will make you disappear. They will bury you.

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Yelp Files New EU Complaint Against Google Over Search Dominance

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  • Screw Yelp (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:22PM (#56654970)

    It's really ironic that Yelp of all companies is complaining about deceitful practices. Yelp takes down 5-star reviews from actual customers claiming "their algorithm is able to filter out non-relevant reviews". I've had dozens of 5-star reviews taken down from my company's page that I know were from actual customers (who also had multiple reviews with other businesses).

    A possible reason for Yelp doing this? Maybe because I've told them numerous times that I did not want to advertise with them.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Great conspiracy theory! Five stars.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Great conspiracy theory! Five stars.

        Yelp's abuse of businesses has been pretty widely documented for a quite some time now.

        But, if you chose to trust them (even though you know nothing about how they do business) then be my guest.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:27PM (#56655002) Journal

      Yeah really strange for Yelp to be complaining about anyone's business practices. Yelp is shady asf. Basically they call up businesses and say "if you don't pay up, we're going to post a bunch of fake reviews and damage your business".

      I wish Google would show a lot LESS of Yelp, since Yelp is nothing but paid ads fraudulently marketed as reviews. We're I in charge of Google, I probably wouldn't list Yelp, or would significantly de-rank them as a known fraud.

      • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:30PM (#56655020)
        Not only that, but they don't let people view full business reviews on a mobile browser -- they try to force people to download their silly little app.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And you know why?

          So they can collect your phone number, device ID, IMSI/IMEI, call history, text messages, contacts, browser ID, potentially browsing history and then sell that information.

          The ONLY reason companies want you to download their app is so they can steal your personally identifiable information and then sell it.

        • by Desler ( 1608317 )

          Just force your browser to load the desktop page. Works just fone.

          • Sure, but the desktop site sucks on a 5" screen, and it shouldn't be necessary to load it. It's only needed because Yelp are being evil.
        • >they try to force people to download their silly little app.

          And their app phones home all the bloody time. I installed a program on my phone to track open internet connections and Yelp was always talking to its servers, even when it wasn't open.

      • Yelp is shady asf. Basically they call up businesses and say "if you don't pay up, we're going to post a bunch of fake reviews and damage your business".

        Please post citations of this very serious claim."Extortion" Im no lawyer but what you said is very close to slander.
        • http://lmgtfy.com/?q=yelp+prot... [lmgtfy.com]

          You'll find there have been at least ten legal proceedings against Yelp for this activity, including a class action suit.

          I do hope they pay you your $10 for posting that here, though.

          No need to try to bother with the "slander" comment. I know they sue journalists and bloggers who mention their business practices. I'm quite immune to suit, though. They are more than welcome to try to sue me. They should be prepared to sue Ken Paxton too, though.

    • Re:Screw Yelp (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:29PM (#56655016)

      Google really _should_ make Yelp go away. It would be a service to the world.

      Absent that, site rating companies should mark them 'deceitful'.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tell us your business so we can verify this. Otherwise, this is like the vague complaints of Wikipedia editor where the person provides no direct link to an example of the abuse they claim to have suffered.

    • by dave562 ( 969951 )

      You beat me to it. I have a really hard time feeling sorry for Yelp here.

      Their business model is more or less built around high pressure sales techniques that border on extortion. Unless you pay them, good reviews will disappear and bad reviews will multiply. "You don't like the bad reviews? No problem. Just subscribe to our service, and we will help you with those."

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:28PM (#56655006)
    They don't let you view full review for a business on a mobile browser, instead forcing you to "get the app." There are workarounds, but there's no reason why I should be nudged to get an app to view info that's otherwise freely available on the Web. Unless they like to track "customer" locations of course, and monetize the data.
    • Just be glad nobody is making Windows "app" replacements for web sites. So many online services are app-only, though, that it's infuriating.

    • by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:54PM (#56655152)
      Exactly. I stopped clicking on Yelp links and this is the biggest reason. It's not like they are "buried". I just don't click on them anymore. Plus when I did have a Yelp app I didn't really use it much. They basically want you to download their app which doesn't list google links, and then are complaining that Google's app doesn't list their links first.

      If I thought the Yelp app was better than Google maps listings, I'd load the app to do these searches. But I just don't think it is. If they are losing Google search relevance, I'm guessing this is the reason. If that means they are getting snuffed out, I guess they are.
    • Forget obnoxious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @04:01PM (#56655192)
      the entire thing has an air of mafiosa about it. They've been caught numerous times selling their services on the basis of "If you know what's good for you". They're upset because if they can't put a bad review at the top of Google's search results they don't have a business model.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yelp is just a long line of cry babies complaining their junk is not in the top of search results compared to Google's even though Yelp has heavily done SEO. Yelp wants a free ride with their junk at the top without having to pay Google for this. Wow.

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:37PM (#56655060)

    This is just demented. Yelp has been destroying search results for a living. I used to be able to search for a local restaurant, and find the website for said local restaurant. Now, I get to wade through directory-site after directory-site, with the actual local restaurant's web-site way down the list.

    Yelp is upset that google doesn't list them as high? I'm upset that google doesn't list the actual website as high.

    Maybe google should push yelp, and every other directory listing site, to the bottom of the list, under actual businesses.

    Think about it. When was the last time you were searching and actually wanted to find a directory listing? The search results ARE the directory listing. I don't need a listing of listings. I want a listing of results.

    This is why I don't use google. I'm not interested in results of big businesses. I'm not looking for big businesses. I never had any trouble finding big businesses. I'm looking for the needle, not for the haystack.

    Think about this one. Ever search for a television, or other big appliance? Did you need google to suggest best buy, walmart, and a dozen other huge outlets that you know about? No you didn't. You needed google to help you find the small outlets, that don't advertise to you with millions of dollars of marketing budgets.

    Thanks google. You're no better than a subway ad.

    • Think about this one. Ever search for a television, or other big appliance? Did you need google to suggest best buy, walmart, and a dozen other huge outlets that you know about?

      Yes, I did. Or at least, yes it's fine. If all I want are the specs and they post them, that works for me. Many of those sites also have customer reviews. They are relevant results for that reason. What are you hoping to find in your search results when you search a TV or appliance model?

      • ...and you needed google's help to find best buy?
        You had trouble typing bestbuy.com?
        You weren't sure if best buy had a web-site?
        You weren't sure what their domain name was?
        You aren't able to make a decision on your own?
        You don't know how to consider-the-source?

        Dang, how did you survive before google? How do you function when on your own? Have you ever walked down a tourist street, or through a mall? How do you decide which stores to enter? Do you ask google?

        Search engines are to find things that you don

        • So I'm supposed to do what. Go to BestBuy.com, and do my product search there? With their broken search?
          Or browse by product category?

          You completely missed the point. I don't know which stores carry X product - I search the product and narrow from there. You still haven't answered what site you're expecting to find in such a search.

  • We selected our dentist based on the excellent reviews she had on Yelp, more than 4.5 from a sizable number of reviews. Unfortunately she turned out to be the worst. Too money minded to be any good. She damaged the teeth of my wife, extracted a seemingly healthy tooth and did this to me:

    1. tried to fix a tooth by drilling and extracting decayed matter - the cavity turned out to be too deep
    2. referred me to an endo-dontist, who extracted his pound of flesh, by this time I had maxed out my insurance
    3. within

  • What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @03:59PM (#56655176) Journal

    Jeremy Stoppelman: Because if you provide great content

    Where is proof - Yelp! has certainly never provided anything I would label "great content". I wounder if he has any other examples and why he is so upset.

  • ...which is deserved IMO BTW, I just realized...why no filter controls on generic searches? That could be a business opportunity for an outfit like Google. Filter out known aggregators, filter out social networks, etc. Like maybe Google's missing out on some money there. Pay $1-per-month for Google services or some-such and get Google services with no ads or tracking, plus custom-configurable filters. Facebook would hate them much as customers might start liking them again.
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @05:07PM (#56655490)

    Are we sure Steve Kroft isn't a reporter bot. His questions sound a lot like Eliza [wikipedia.org] replies:

    • Jeremy Stoppelman: If I were starting out today, I would have no shot of building Yelp.
      That opportunity has been closed off by Google and their approach.
    • Steve Kroft: In what way?
    • Jeremy Stoppelman: Because if you provide great content in one of these categories that is lucrative to Google,
      and seen as potentially threatening, they will snuff you out.
    • Steve Kroft: What do you mean snuff you out?
    • Jeremy Stoppelman: They will make you disappear. They will bury you.

    ... And how does that make you feel that they will bury you?

  • If I build a good product which conquers the market and your product cannot compete with mine, is it my fault because I built it too well or yours because the quality of your product is inferior? Stop whining and apply yourself, Yelp. Oh, and most of all, grow up. No one likes tattletales.
  • There are alternatives...
  • The only way I've ever ended up on Yelp, is via a Google search. I'd hardly call it "great content" It seems more along the lines of "unreliable and often dubious content" to me.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun

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