Yelp Will Now Call Companies Racist With New Consumer Alert to ‘Stand Against Racism’

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Yelp has announced a new consumer alert for businesses that have been accused of “racist behaviour,” effectively targeting them for consumer backlash.

Yelp announced the creation of the “Business Accused of Racist Behaviour Alert” on Thursday morning. “We’ve seen 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 tweeted.

The new alert is an extension of their recent creation, the “Public Attention Alert,” which was designed in “response to a rise in social activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement,” a Yelp blog post explains.

The PAA will be placed on a business if “someone associated wiht the business was accused of, or the target of, racist behaviour,” while the BARBA will be added to the business page “when there’s resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee, such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols,” and will include a link to a news article on the topic.

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Yelp is continuing their work with the “Open to All” group, “a national nondiscrimination campaign based around the idea that everyone should be welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, religion or disability.”

Yelp and Open to All are now offering a “toolkit” to help “fight against racism,” which includes access to “a 60-minute unlearning bias training video,” email templates, posters for employee breakrooms and access to sample graphics and posts for social media.

In 2018, Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said that Silicon Valley had “lost its purpose,” in that they should not simply be focused on making the most money, but having an impact on society, including acting against racism. “If its purpose really was, ‘hey, we’re really trying to have a positive impact,’ just focusing on technology and growth might not be enough,” Stoppelman said. “You might actually have to make decisions that hurt growth.”

There was widespread backlash to the plans on social media. Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer and Republican Committeewoman from California, described the plans as “bullsh*t,” and said that Yelp was “weaponising defamation.”

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Lauren Witzke, the Republican Senate candidate for Delaware, described Yelp’s plan as “economic terrorism,” arguing that BLM activists and others would use the list of businesses tagged with the alerts as targets for looting. “We know violent thugs will quickly turn their hatred into personal and property crime,” Witzke wrote.

Yelp may also be opening themselves up to defamation suits. In June this year, a bakery near Oberlin College was awarded $44 million in damages from the college, after a judge ruled that they had jumped on the side of their students who had boycotted the bakery, claiming it was racist.