Yelp announced Thursday that it is launching a consumer alert to inform users if a business has been “accused of racist behavior,” The Daily Caller reports.
The crowdsourced web and mobile-based review service will allow reviewers to identify and warn others of what they believe is racist behavior at businesses.
According to a statement on the company’s blog, Noorie Malik, Yelp’s vice president of user operations writes, members of Yelp’s User Operations team will apply a new label called the “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” on businesses “when there’s resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee, such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols.” The new alert aims to keep the businesses informed of negative reviews and let customers know what they might be walking into.
An increasing number of reviewers have warned fellow users of racist conduct at local businesses, Yelp says. https://t.co/xDrNRNC9Hp
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 8, 2020
“Now more than ever, consumers are increasingly conscious of the types of businesses they patronize and support. They are ‘voting with their dollars,’ so to speak,” said Malik.
“We needed a better solution to inform consumers about businesses allegedly associated with egregious, racially charged actions to help people feel comfortable patronizing a business,” Malik added.
Reviews of alleged racist actions will be added after Yelp determines the presence of such “resounding evidence” and “must reflect an actual first-hand consumer experience,” the statement noted.
The action has come as consumers have been increasingly using the platform to call out behavior they deem racist, amid a broader ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement that alleges ‘systemic racism’ in America. According to Yelp’s statement between May 26 and Sept. 30 the company placed over 450 alerts concerning racist behavior.
“We’re often alerted of discrimination occurring at local businesses across the country on a daily basis and often in smaller towns where they may not even make the news,” Malik says.
The new feature has been criticized by those who argue that the new alerts could easily be abused.
Former California congressional candidate Beatrice Cardenas, wrote in a tweet: “This is such a subjective accusation to make against someone. You are going to be personally responsible for many lives destroyed when this new feature gets abused and weaponized, and people lose their businesses.”