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Yelp’s new consumer-alert tool about racist businesses gets mixed reactions

Yelp’s new consumer-alert tool about racist businesses gets mixed reactions

Yelp is taking a stand against racism with new consumer alert. (Photo: Yelp)
Yelp is taking a stand against racism with a new consumer alert. (Photo: Yelp)

Yelp is taking a stance against racism with the introduction of new consumer alerts in response to heightened activity around Black-owned businesses and those accused of discrimination.

The website dedicated to crowdsourced reviews of businesses announced the Public Attention alert and Business Accused of Racist Behavior alert on Thursday in a blog post that sparked mixed reactions — including from those expressing concern over the site’s trust in reviews written by anybody with an account. Yelp tells Yahoo Life that its new developments will help to improve the reliability of published reviews by investigating dramatic increases in activity and even accusations of racist behavior.

“Our top priority is to ensure the trust and safety of our community and provide users with reliable content to inform their spending decisions,” a Yelp spokesperson tells Yahoo Life, “including decisions about whether they’ll be welcome and safe at a particular business.”

In order to do so, the company has put consumer alerts in place to allow Yelp to do the necessary vetting in response to spikes in reviews that can come from people who haven’t even had firsthand experience at the business, but instead are reacting to attention that it has received in the media. Hence, the installment of the Public Attention alert, which will inform any visitor on a particular business’s Yelp page that the reviews may be a result of increased attention instead of specific firsthand experiences.

Users will receive a Public Attention Alert when businesses experience increased activity. (Photo: Yelp)
Users will receive a Public Attention alert when businesses experience increased activity. (Photo: Yelp)

“When a business makes the news, people often come to the business’s Yelp page to express their views. We have signals in place that will flag if a business page is seeing an unusual increase in activity,”

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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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