Americans are increasingly using Yelp to warn others of racist behavior at businesses across the country. In the months following the death of George Floyd, a significant number of reviewers have taken to Yelp to warn others after being subjected to racism at local businesses, according to Yelp.
Therefore, on Thursday, the company announced that it was launching a new feature that flags businesses that have been accused of discriminating against customers or employees and exhibiting racist behavior.
'Business Accused of Racist Behavior'
As part of Yelp's new "Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert," a red icon will be displayed on a business' page that may have been associated with racist conduct, the company said.
"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," Yelp said in the blog post.
"Now, when a business gains public attention for reports of racist conduct, such as using racist language or symbols, 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 about the incident," the company added.
Mixed Reactions on Social Media
Not long after Yelp's announcement, some users took to social media to voice their anger over the company's new feature, which they claim is "racist," while others welcomed the decision, calling it "just" and a step in the right direction.
"I accuse @Yelp of racism," tweeted one user. "You gonna tag yourself now? You policy doesn't require proof, just an allegation."
"Hate a business? Apparently Yelp has provided you with a tool to seek revenge. Yep, no chance this atrocious idea backfires. None," commented another.
"I love the idea and believe it is just," wrote a user, supporting the company's decision. "We need more racial equality in our country and to take a stand against racism, misogyny, and discrimination in all forms. However, accusations and news articles are not proof. There must be a system in place to safeguard due process."
"This is amazing! Yelp is always doing great things! I love all the new features you guys have added. This is the first of its kind and I love this bold new step you're taking in the right direction," opined another.
Can the Feature be Abused?
On Yelp, a business' star rating can be affected by users leaving reviews for stores they've never even visited. For instance, in June, an Atlanta-based black-owned restaurant was bombarded with negative reviews after a false rumor started circulating that it refused to serve police officers.
Therefore, when an alert is placed on a business' page, users will not be able to leave reviews until after Yelp "investigates." Yelp's policy requires that all reviews are based on first-hand experiences with a business, and it does not "allow people to leave reviews based on media reports because it can artificially inflate or deflate a business's star rating."