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Yelp to alert users when businesses accused of racism

The new feature was prompted by nationwide protests that put a spotlight on racial injustice.
Yelp Racism alert
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Business-review site Yelp will now alert users when a business has been accused of racist behavior. 

The new feature comes after a summer of nationwide protests against racial injustice, during which many businesses including restaurants came under increased scrutiny for racism. 

“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 a blog post announcing the news.

The “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” steps up an existing alert that warned people when a business’ page was seeing increased media-driven activity, resulting in reviews that were not always first-hand. It will be used for businesses accused of overtly racist actions and will link to a news story on the subject. The alert will also temporarily disable reviews for that business.

“We don’t allow people to leave reviews based on media reports because it can artificially inflate or deflate a business’s star rating,” Yelp said.

Yelp reviews driven by media reports have risen 133% so far this year, and between May 26 and September 30, the company had placed alerts on 450 businesses that were either accused of or the target of racist acts.

The national focus on racial justice has made consumers more deliberate about the businesses they patronize. For example, 45% of younger consumers said they would increase visits to a restaurant that donates a portion of proceeds to civil rights organizations, according to a July report by Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. And Yelp reviews mentioning Black-owned businesses were up more than 617% this summer year over year. 

With those reviews came an increase in warnings of racist behavior by businesses. Thus, the new alert.

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