Yelp Racist Behavior Alert Decried by Conservatives over Fears It Will Destroy Businesses

Yelp has been criticized for its new alert system, which will warn users if a business has been accused of "overtly racist actions."

The crowdsourced review platform announced that it is launching a new scheme where it will be placing a "Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert" on businesses' Yelp pages if they have been accused of such actions, along with a link to a news article so people can read more about the incident.

The move is an extension of its "Public Attention Alert" which is placed on businesses that may be receiving an unusual influx of negative news as a result of increased attention or being written about in the media

"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," Yelp said in a statement.

The new alert system was criticized by many people, including high-profile conservative voices, who said users may abuse the system and business-owners' livelihoods could be hugely affected by false accusations.

Beatrice Cardenas, a California congressional candidate, tweeted: "This is such a subjective accusation to make against someone.

"You are going to be personally responsible for many lives destroyed when this new feature gets abused and weaponized, and people lose their businesses."

Blogger and right-wing political commentator Michelle Malkin said she will be deleting her Yelp account in response to the move.

"FYI: Yelp CEO [Jeremy Stoppelman] has tweeted/RTed propaganda tweets re. Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake & George Floyd—falsely sliming cops before they've had their day in court," Malkin wrote. "So we all know how Yelp's new 'accused of racism' alert system is going to work out..."

Director Robby Starbuck added: "So Yelp if we accuse you of racism will you mark your own site as being accused of racism?

"This idiotic policy will be weaponized. It'll destroy families and their businesses which will hurt their kids. Will Yelp get a 'you've been accused of hurting kids' badge?"

Other social media users pointed out that Yelp's office in Phoenix was the subject of racism allegations last month.

Okay, we need to report a racism case.

At Yelp’s Phoenix office, some insiders say a ‘boy’s club’ atmosphere fueled racism, sexism, and a hard-partying culture — on top of regular verbal abuse from customers

— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) October 9, 2020

Hate a business? Apparently Yelp has provided you with a tool to seek revenge. Yep, no chance this atrocious idea backfires. None.

— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) October 9, 2020

Yelp is introducing a "Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert" for businesses.

I say we nominate every single business that implements affirmative action hiring or promotes critical race theory for such a warning 🤗

— Lauren Chen (@TheLaurenChen) October 9, 2020

So when a customer hallucinates that they’ve experienced racism you’re going to alert the entire world that the restaurant is racist?

— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) October 9, 2020

Honest to God I read this tweet without looking at the account and thought it was a parody. But no, it's real. Yelp is really giving race hoaxers a specific tool to destroy any business they want on a whim.

— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) October 9, 2020

This is a dangerous move to blacklist businesses based on what could be false reports.

I am deleting Yelp from my phone and urge everyone to do the same.

— Marc Lobliner (@MarcLobliner) October 9, 2020

so, Yelp just gave the radical left a tool to harm or end businesses they might deem conservative or Trump-supporting. Again, you can now report a business as racist.. with no proof other than your say so. What on Earth!

— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@JoeTalkShow) October 9, 2020

Yelp said the decision to include the alert arrived after seeing a 133 percent increase in the number of media-fueled incidences on the platform this year compared to 2019.

Between the day after Minneapolis man George Floyd died in May and September 30, Yelp placed more than 450 alerts on business pages that were either accused, or the target of, racist behavior related to the Black Lives Matter movement, the company said.

In a statement to Newsweek, a Yelp spokesperson said: "Our top priority is to ensure the trust and safety of our community and provide users with reliable content to inform their spending decisions, including decisions about whether they'll be welcome and safe at a particular business.

"When we notice an unusual spike in activity on a business's Yelp page, our team of moderators will investigate and temporarily disable content as we place an alert on the business's page to warn users that some of these reviews may not be based on first-hand experiences."

This article has been updated with further comment from Yelp.

Sign at the headquarters of social reviews site Yelp in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco, California, October 13, 2017. The review site has been criticized for its alert system which will warn users if a business has been accused of "overtly racist actions." Smith Collection/Gado/Getty