Local business owner concerned over Yelp’s racism accusation alerts

Yelp said this new alert is one of the ways the company is taking a firm stance against racism.
Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 8:26 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A new alert on Yelp is raising concerns for a local business owner. The review company will notify consumers when businesses are accused of racist behavior. Yelp said this alert is one of the ways the company is taking a firm stance against racism.

Yelp rolled out a number of initiatives over the summer to help users find and support Black-owned businesses. It partnered with My Black Receipt on the launch of a Black-owned business attribute and joined the 15 Percent Pledge to further amplify Black-owned businesses.

The company said searches to support black-owned businesses surged on yelp during the summer, as did reviews warning users of racist behavior at businesses.

According to Yelp if a claim of a racist incident occurs it will post a general “Public Attention Alert”. This alert will inform consumers if someone associated with the business was accused of, or the target of racist behavior.

Yelp will only escalate to a “Business Accused of Racist Behavior” alert when there’s evidence of “egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols," said Yelp.

A 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."

The owner of Sweet Tahoe Time, Beth Moxley said, she does not condone racism, but as a business owner she doesn’t support this new alert.

Moxley worries it could be used maliciously. She hopes Yelp will thoroughly investigate and monitor the reviews before labeling a business.

“Someone for some reason or another has a personal issue with an owner of the establishment, they can use this label and accuse this business as racist behavior as a personal vendetta.”

Yelp said when a business receives the “Business Accused of Racist Behavior” alert it will always link to a news article from a credible media outlet so users can learn more.

We reached out to other local businesses and organizations they preferred not to comment on Yelp’s new alert.

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