Yelp, a website which provides a space to review and rate businesses, has created a new label which will alert consumers if a business has been accused of racism.
Following an uptick in reports of alleged discrimination, Yelp thought it would be a good idea to create a new label for businesses. The platform says that the alert will help customers decide whether they will be welcome at a particular business. Critics disagree.
Many opposed to this change claim that it will be used to “destroy” businesses using false allegations.
According to The New York Post, “Yelp says it will place the notice on the profiles of businesses that see an influx of reviews after getting public attention for reports of ‘racist conduct’ and direct users to a news article with more details about the allegations.”
The label is apparently an extension of efforts by Yelp to flag businesses that become overwhelmed with bad reviews from consumers that have never visited their establishments, but have instead heard something negative about them in the news or on social media.
This phenomenon of leftists attacking businesses over perceived discrimination has become a more common occurrence amid the Black Lives Matter protests and riots which have recently swept the nation. Yelp announced that it has placed more than 450 alerts on businesses pages that have been accused of or targeted by racist behavior between May 26 and September 30.
Prior to adding this new label, Yelp had already had a process by which it adds a “Public Attention Alert” to these businesses’ profiles, and temporarily blocks users from adding reviews on the pages while the platform confirms if the posts were based on actual first-hand experiences.
According to Noorie Malik, Yelp’s vice president of user operations, the new alert will read “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert”, and will only be added when the allegations involve overt racism and Yelp is able to link a relevant news story confirming it.
“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 wrote in a Thursday blog post announcing the move.
Yelp’s announcement drew fire from many on the right who say that the company, based in San Francisco, is creating an avenue for false allegations of racism by angry customers.
“Yelp is really giving race hoaxers a specific tool to destroy any business they want on a whim,” conservative blogger Matt Walsh tweeted.
Honest to God I read this tweet without looking at the account and thought it was a parody. But no, it's real. Yelp is really giving race hoaxers a specific tool to destroy any business they want on a whim. https://t.co/8G51LQfCQZ
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) October 9, 2020
Andy Ngo, editor of the Post Millennial, noted that an ANTIFA group in Portland is already compiling a list of businesses they disagree with to flag on Yelp:
With @Yelp announcing it is going to put notices on businesses accused of “racist behavior,” one #antifa group responsible for organizing the violent protests in Portland is now compiling a list. pic.twitter.com/EubfxcztuD
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) October 9, 2020
“This is an inducement to false accusation and thuggery. What if a bunch of people wantonly accuse [Yelp] of racism? Will they place a racist alert on their own company?” tweeted Dinesh D’Souza.
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) October 9, 2020
Harmeet K. Dhillon, a Republican lawyer, tweeted that Yelp was “weaponizing defamation” and opening itself up to lawsuits.
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) October 9, 2020
Some critics also pointed to a recent Business Insider article about alleged racist behavior within Yelp’s Phoenix office.
Asked about the criticism, a spokesperson for the company said that the platform’s alerts “are meant to bring more information to the forefront” and notify users that they might see reviews that aren’t based on first-hand experiences.
Yelp shares were down around 1.3 percent at $20.80 as of Friday afternoon.