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Yelp Doubles Down on Reports of Racism at Restaurants

Racism in restaurants isn't quite this obvious anymore, but it still happens.
Racism in restaurants isn't quite this obvious anymore, but it still happens.
Adam Jones, Ph.D. / CC BY-SA

Yelp is issuing clear warnings when reports of restaurants displaying racist behavior pop up on the website.

The platform for crowd-sourced reviews announced last week it has a new consumer alert for that purpose.

When there’s a report of an incident involving racism, Yelp defaults to a general public attention alert to inform consumers that someone associated with the business was accused of, or was the target of, racist behavior.

The issue escalates to a “business accused of racist behavior” alert when there’s “resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee, such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols.” This alert will always link to a news article from a credible media outlet, Yelp says.

“Communities have always turned to Yelp in reaction to current events at the local level. 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 statement read.

When there’s an unusual spike in activity on a business’s Yelp page, staff will investigate and temporarily disable content while they put an alert on the page warning users that some reviews may not be based on first-hand experiences.

Yelp reviews mentioning Black-owned businesses were up more than 617% this summer compared with last summer. Support for women-owned businesses also increased, with review mentions up 114% for the same time period.

Yelp Doubles Down on Reports of Racism at Restaurants
courtesy of Yelp

Over the summer, Yelp rolled out a number of initiatives to help users find and support Black-owned businesses. Partnered with My Black Receipt, Yelp launched 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.

Yelp’s consumer alert is a response to this so people can easily see businesses that may be associated with overtly racist actions.

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