Yelp to place alert on businesses 'accused of racist behavior'

This March 19, 2018, file photo shows the Yelp app on an iPad in Baltimore. Yelp reports financial results Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.
(Image credit: Patrick Semansky / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Yelp is rolling out a new alert to inform users when a business has been accused of "egregious, racially-charged actions."

In a blog post, Yelp announced the new consumer alert that will be placed on businesses that generate media coverage for alleged racism.

"Now, 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," Yelp said.

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The alert reads in part that "someone associated with this business was accused of racist behavior" recently, and it informs users that Yelp reviews "must reflect an actual first-hand consumer experience" and that "we have temporarily disabled the ability to post here." The company said there must be "resounding evidence" for the alert to be applied and that it "will always link to a news article from a credible media outlet."

Previously, Yelp had rolled out a "Public Attention Alert" to inform users that a business "may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention." But with the new alert, The New York Times writes that there are still questions as to how Yelp will "ensure that businesses were not falsely associated with racism or the target of defamatory reviews," and CNN similarly noted that it remains "unclear whether Yelp can prevent the alert from being manipulated."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.