In an announcement made earlier today, Yelp will begin adding racism labels to business pages reported for engaging in “overtly racist actions.”
According to Yelp’s statement on the new policy, when a reviewer reports that a business is engaging in “overtly racist actions”, Yelp will add a “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” and a link to a news article for people to read more about the situation.
They remind reviewers that “all reviews must be based on actual, first-hand consumer experiences with the business.”
In the same statement, Yelp also announced their partnership with Open to All, an anti-discrimination coalition that advocates the idea that businesses should be open to everyone “regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration satus, religion or disability.”
Together, they will be providing small businesses with a toolkit for making their businesses inclusive environments. The toolkit includes an hour-long “unlearning bias training video”, much along the lines of Critical Race Theory recently banned from the federal government.
Yelp was already engaging in a similar alert system over the summer before rolling out this new policy. According to their statement, they “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” between May 26th and September 30th.
“Yelp’s top priority is to ensure the trust and safety of our users and provide them with reliable content to inform their spending decisions,” the statement reads, “including decisions about whether they’ll be welcome and safe at a particular business.”
While innocent and well-intentioned enough on its face, many are raising concerns about the possibility of false reports and the dangers this could pose to innocent businesses in a highly divided political climate.
Senior Editor at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, called Yelp’s new policy “a crude social credit system”, alluding to the Chinese Communist Party’s social credit system that awards and punishes its citizens based on behavior the State deems good or bad.
“I want you to stop for a second and consider the corporate mindset that wishes to turn the Internet onto businesses and make it possible to accuse them of racism, with no proof whatsoever, and attempt to hurt their business. This is what Social Justice Warriors do. They are making our society unliveable. Now business owners everywhere have to live in fear of a false accusation of racism, accepted and magnified on Yelp, that could destroy their livelihoods.”“Yelp’s Crude Social Credit System” by Rod Dreher
Dreher gives the example of an Ohio bakery that faced false accusations of racial profiling in 2016. A court ruled in 2019 that Oberlin College, which engaged in spreading the false accusations, award the bakery $11 million for libel.
Yelp gives no direction on exactly what constitutes racist behavior, aside from the use of “racist language or symbols.” Nor does it offer any information on whether Yelp will undergo investigations of whether racist allegations against a business are true, or whether there will be a way for a business to appeal the alert.