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New Yelp Policy Will Flag Businesses Accused of Racism

New Yelp Policy Will Flag Businesses Accused of Racism

Yelp  (YELP) – Get Report rolled out a new feature Friday that will alert users when an establishment has been associated with what the review site called “egregious, racially charged actions.” 

The San Francisco company’s site enables users to rank and comment about businesses.

“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,” the company said in a statement. 

A banner with a red exclamation point and a tile of “Business Accused of Racist Behavior” will appear under a business where “someone associated with this business was accused of racist behavior.”

The banner also will say whether the racist behavior resulted in an influx of people posting their views to a business’s Yelp page. Those negative reviews must reflect actual first-hand customer experiences, the company said. 

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To protect against what it calls “media-fueled reviews,” it will require that user experiences be first-hand accounts of racist behavior. 

Yelp reported seeing more than a doubling of of media-fueled “incidences” on the site so far in 2020. 

From May 26 through Sept. 30 the company placed more than 450 alerts on business pages that were either accused of, or the target of, “racist behavior related to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Once Yelp notices an unusual spike in activity on a business’s Yelp page, the company’s moderators investigate and temporarily disable content, as they place an alert warning users that some reviews may not be based on first-hand experiences. 

When allegations of racism are present, the company will default to a general public attention alert and will escalate that banner

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Yelp’s new labels will warn you if a business has been accused of racism

Yelp’s new labels will warn you if a business has been accused of racism

Yelp wants to help its users make better decisions about the places they’re looking up and is rolling out a new feature today that will alert people if a business has been associated with “egregious, racially-charged actions.” These labels will be added to pages that see a rise in reviews based on what people have seen in the news or social media rather than first-hand experiences. Yelp will also include a link to an article explaining more about the incident that caused the business to catch attention for racist conduct. The labels don’t just tell you about places accused of racism — they’ll also alert you to those who were victims of it.

Yelp said its user operations team has already been placing these alerts based on an increase in the number of reviews citing news or social media, so these new labels aren’t an entirely new concept. The difference is that the company will now flag places that have been accused of using racist language or symbols and other such actions.

When it first notices a person associated with a business has been a target or accused of racism, Yelp will add a Public Attention Alert to that company’s page “to warn consumers that the business may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention.” If a business has been accused of “overtly racist actions, where we can link to a news article,” Yelp will use its “Business Accused of Racist Behavior” label instead.

Yelp is relying on news and social media reports in this process partly to warn people about the possible influx of fake reviews affecting a business’ ratings in these situations. “It’s always been Yelp’s policy that all reviews must be based on actual first-hand consumer experiences with the business,” the company

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Yelp launches alert that identifies businesses accused of racism

Yelp launches alert that identifies businesses accused of racism

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 (Photo: Yelp)

Americans are increasingly using Yelp to sound the alarm after encountering racist practices at businesses across the country. 

In the months following George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer, an increasing number of reviewers have warned fellow users of racist conduct at local businesses, Yelp says. 

On Thursday, the platform announced plans to pick up where watchdog users left off with the launch of a consumer alert that flags businesses accused of racist behavior. The move is meant to give patrons “reliable” and actionable information while holding business owners accountable for their actions, the platform says. 

“Now more than ever, consumers are increasingly conscious of the types of businesses they patronize and support. They are ‘voting with their dollars,’ so to speak,” said Noorie Malik, Yelp’s vice president of user operations.  “We needed a better solution to inform consumers about businesses allegedly associated with egregious, racially-charged actions to help people feel comfortable patronizing a business.”

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Yelp’s new “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” is meant to serve innocent business owners and Yelp users alike, the app says. On one hand, it protects businesses from an avalanche of angry artificial reviews and it lets consumers know what they might be up against before patronizing a store. 

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Review bombs

On Yelp, a business’ star rating can be artificially inflated or deflated by activists leaving reviews for stores they’ve never been to.

This type of scenario played out in 2012 after a pizza parlor owner hugged President Obama igniting social responses from people on both sides of the aisle. Some posted one-star reviews on the restaurant’s page attacking the owner. Others

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