Yelp adds alert to notify racist behavior on business reviews

Yelp’s new Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert is an extension of its Public Attention Alert.

The consumer review platform Yelp has added a new feature that allows users to flag businesses accused of racism.

Noorie Malik, the company’s vice president of user operations, released a statement Thursday on the site’s blog detailing the new initiative. “At Yelp,” she said, “we value diversity, inclusion and belonging, both internally and on our platform, which means we have a zero-tolerance policy to racism.”

The online consumer review platform Yelp has added a new feature alerts that allow its users to flag businesses accused of racism. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The online consumer review platform Yelp has added a new feature alerts that allow its users to flag businesses accused of racism. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“We know these values are important to our users,” Malik noted, “and now more than ever, consumers are increasingly conscious of the types of businesses they patronize and support.”

Her statement goes on to reference the police protests this summer that put the Black Lives Matter movement back into the forefront. Reviews on the platform mentioning Black-owned businesses were up more than 617% this summer, and Yelp initiated some programs to help users locate and assist Black-owned establishments.

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“We partnered with My Black Receipt on the launch of a Black-owned business attribute and joined the 15 Percent Pledge to further amplify Black-owned businesses. While searches for Black-owned businesses surged on Yelp, so did the volume of reviews warning users of racist behavior at businesses.”

In response to consumer concerns, new alerts on business pages will now be able to caution people about businesses that may be associated with overtly racist actions. “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.”

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Malik writes that the company’s “new Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert is an extension of our Public Attention Alert that we introduced in response to a rise in social activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Because Yelp is committed to reviews rooted in real-life experiences customers have with businesses, their Public Attention Alert is a warning “that the business may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention. For businesses accused of overtly racist actions, where we can link to a news article, we will escalate the warning with the Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert.”

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Malik notes that this feature is necessary because the company has “seen a 133% increase in the number of media-fueled incidences on Yelp compared to the same time last year.

The company has partnered with Open to All, a campaign supported by more than 200 civil rights, racial justice and LGBTQ organizations to support businesses with a toolkit they provide to help them become more inclusive. The toolkit features an hour-long video aimed at helping workers unlearn discrimination, teach them effective language and give small companies the resources they need to improve in diversity and inclusion.

Businesses that participate can then be identified as a business that is open to all with a banner on their Yelp business page.

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