Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0 

Local business owners say Yelp offers to hide negative customer reviews of their businesses on its web site ... for a price.

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In any case, there is scant evidence that the criticism has actually hurt Yelp. "We have thousands of advertisers in our program that are very happy with what they're seeing," Ichinose said. And the number of visitors to the site continues to grow. Pozner says that's probably because Yelp's target demographic — young people and college kids — isn't as sensitive to news of this kind. "I don't see it as terrifically damaging unless there was some kind of legal action taken," she said.

When avid reviewer Bill Blackburn of San Francisco was asked whether he would still use Yelp even if he knew the site manipulated its content to sell advertising, the 28-year-old conceded, "Yeah, I think I would."

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