Yelp plans to alert users when a business on its platform has been accused of racist conduct, the company announced in a blog post. When someone associated with a business is accused of or is the target of racist behavior, Yelp will apply its general public attention alert. But if there’s “resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions” by a business owner or employees, such as using racist symbols or slurs, Yelp will apply a “business accused of racist behavior alert” and link to a credible news source to provide users more information.
“As the nation reckons with issues of systemic racism, we’ve seen in the last few months that there is a clear need to warn consumers about businesses associated with egregious, racially charged actions to help people make more informed spending decisions,” Noorie Malik, Yelp vice president of user operations, wrote in the blog post.
It’s not totally clear what exactly will qualify as “racist behavior” under the updated alert system, but it continues Yelp’s alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement. The company put public attention alerts into place following what it said was a rise in social activism around the Black Lives Matter movement. The public attention alerts let customers know why a business might have more than the usual number of reviews due to increased attention in the media.
Between May 26th and September 30th, Yelp says it placed more than 450 public attention alerts on the pages of businesses either accused of or targeted by racist behavior related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In June, Yelp launched a new tool to allow businesses on the platform to identify themselves as Black-owned. Yelp says it saw a 617 percent increase in reviews mentioning Black-owned businesses between summer 2019 and summer 2020.
And earlier this year, the company issued its first Consumer Alerts report, which showed it shut down 550 accounts associated with a group generating fake reviews and put more than 300 alerts on pages where the business owners were believed to be encouraging or paying for reviews.