New Yelp Policy Will Flag Businesses Accused of Racism

Yelp, in a new policy, will flag businesses that have been associated with what the review site called "egregious, racially charged actions."
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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 only when there is "resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee."

Shares of Yelp at last check were 1.4% lower at $20.78.