Yelp is making a new move that is causing some consternation today and it’s easy to see why.
They announced that they would be creating a new label they would put on businesses to warn people that the businesses have been accused of racism after they get an uptick in reports of discrimination.
Communities have always turned to Yelp in reaction to current events, and our User Operations team already places alerts on business pages when we notice an unusual uptick in reviews that are based on what someone may have seen in the news, rather than on a first-hand experience.
— Yelp (@Yelp) October 8, 2020
They claim they want to help customers determine if the business would be welcoming to them with such a label and they would direct users to a “news article” with more details about the allegations.
From NY Post:
“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’s vice president of operations, wrote in a Thursday blog post announcing the move.
Yelp said the accusations have become a more common occurrence amid the Black Lives Matter actions across the country and that they’ve put alerts on more than 450 businesses between May 26 and September 30 “that were accused of or targeted by racist behavior.”
Now, when a business gains attention for reports of racist conduct, Yelp will place a new Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert on their Yelp page to inform users, along with a link to a news article where they can learn more. https://t.co/1K2bJ46uM8
— Yelp (@Yelp) October 8, 2020
The platform will now add a more specific “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” when the allegations involve overt racism and Yelp can link to a relevant news story about them, Malik wrote. The company says it generally removes consumer alerts like these after 90 days if the offending behavior stops.
As we’ve already seen, people make up all kinds of things to weaponize Yelp when they don’t like a business or the business is in the news. This would make it even worse because then Yelp is weighing in based on an accusation. You can already see how it would be easily abused.
We’ve already seen the BLM go after businesses in places like Louisville and allegedly threaten them if they didn’t do what BLM wanted in terms of hiring people or paying off black organizations.
Now this gives a potential further weapon to someone trying to pressure or extort a business.
This kind of thing is not a joke as we already saw businesses allegedly being pressured in Louisville for example to comply with demands by the BLM there, to post things saying you supported them. Or else.
“Yelp is really giving race hoaxers a specific tool to destroy any business they want on a whim,” conservative blogger Matt Walsh wrote on Twitter.
“This is an inducement to false accusation and thuggery,” tweeted Dinesh D’Souza, the far-right commentator pardoned by President Trump following his 2014 guilty plea to campaign-finance violations. “What if a bunch of people wantonly accuse [Yelp] of racism? Will they place a racist alert on their own company?”
Republican lawyer Harmeet K. Dhillon argued Yelp was “weaponizing defamation” and opening itself up to lawsuits. Others pointed to a recent Business Insider article about alleged racist behavior within the company’s Phoenix office.
I'd like to accuse Yelp of racist behavior https://t.co/VvwCMILR5T
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) October 9, 2020
You dropped this. pic.twitter.com/lpSe8u7fjr
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) October 9, 2020
I’m guessing Yelp will be contacting flagged businesses with an offer, for a small fee of course, to remove the flag. pic.twitter.com/cmnG4ts86s
— klarson (@kglarson) October 9, 2020
I strongly support Yelp’s decision to label people and businesses
‘Racist” without evidence other than unverified claims.
Because I always wanted an 8-series convertible.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) October 9, 2020
Can we get a racism consumer alert on the Yelp page for Yale University please? https://t.co/DOta1k6r8F
There’s even a news article they can reference.https://t.co/ljmEsrsA0m
— DECLASS IT ALL!!! (@mgTrumpist) October 9, 2020
Thinking Yelp really hasn’t thought this through and isn’t going to like the lawsuits they’ll be getting.