There’s a difference between being exonerated and there not being enough evidence to take action. I suspect the latter was the case, when it comes to Yelp’s boasting that the FTC “recently concluded a deep inquiry into our business practices and informed us that it will not be taking any action.”
Despite receiving thousands of complaints, the FTC has concluded that their is no (or perhaps not enough) evidence to suggest that Yelp deliberately manipulates consumer reviews in order to squeeze advertising dollars out of poor performing businesses.
The outcome is similar to a court ruling back in September, which Yelp lauded as vindication. That ruling apparently left the door open that the company may be up to something, but not anything illegal.
Yelp continues to be the leading local review site and the one that causes the most reputation headaches. Certainly a cloud of deception hangs over its head, but until such time as a legal body agrees that Yelp is guilty of extortion, we have no choice but to accept that the review system is clean and instead use other methods to clean up negative reviews.