A WSJ column states most of the 2,046 FTC complaints filed against Yelp (YELP -5.9%) from 2008 through March 4 are "from small businesses that claim to have received unfair or fraudulent reviews, often after turning down a pitch to advertise on the site."
The column also notes Yelp has stated it gets an average of six subpoenas/month, some of which seek the names of anonymous users who have left negative reviews.
The Virginia Supreme Court is set to rule on a suit filed by the owner of a carpet-cleaning service whose business fell sharply following a spate of negative Yelp reviews, and which is seeking the identities of the reviewers. The case is being closely watched by Internet free speech advocates.
Yelp has freely admitted it has a fake reviews problem. The company has tried to deal with the issue by automatically filtering questionable reviews and tagging businesses proven to have posted or paid for fake reviews.
Shares are down 11% from Tuesday's close. They fell yesterday following the publication of an FTC letter stating the commission is giving the WSJ access to all but 9 of the aforementioned complaints, albeit with identifying information removed.