Could Your Business Be Flagged, Online, As "Racist"?
On October 8, 2020, Yelp posted an article entitled New Consumer Alert on Yelp Takes Firm Stance Against Racism. The article was posted on Yelp’s official blog page by Noorie Malik, VP of User Operations.
The information that follows represents some of the key takeaways from the blog as well as information found in Yelp’s FAQ regarding media-fueled Consumer Alerts. To ensure all facts are accurately presented, the information provided is quoted directly from the Yelp Blog and Yelp’s FAQ regarding media-fueled Consumer Alerts.
The links to both the blog and FAQ are included at the end of this article. We encourage you to read both publications carefully.
“If someone associated with a business is accused of, or the target of, racist behavior, we will place a Public Attention Alert on the business page to warn consumers that the business may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention. For businesses accused of overtly racist actions, where we can link to a news article, we will escalate our warning with the Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert.”
“Yelp’s User Operations team already places alerts on business pages when we notice an unusual uptick in reviews that are based on what someone may have seen in the news or on social media, rather than on a first-hand experience with the business. Now, when a business gains public attention for reports of racist conduct, such as using racist language or symbols, Yelp will place a new Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert on their Yelp page to inform users, along with a link to a news article where they can learn more about the incident.”
“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, including decisions about whether they’ll be welcome and safe at a particular business. We advocate for personal expression and provide a platform that encourages people to share their experience online, but at the same time it’s always been Yelp’s policy that all reviews must be based on actual first-hand consumer experiences with the business. This policy is critical to mitigating fake reviews and maintaining the integrity of content on our platform. We don’t allow people to leave reviews based on media reports because it can artificially inflate or deflate a business’s star rating.”
From Media-Fueled Consumer Alerts FAQ
"If warranted, our User Operations team will place one of the following media-fueled Consumer Alerts on a business page to inform consumers why we have temporarily disabled the ability to post new reviews.”
• Unusual Activity Alert: We place this alert when a business receives an influx of Yelp reviews motivated by a recent news event or social media post. This is the most common type of media-fueled alert. In fact, 660+ businesses have had this type of alert placed on their business page in 2020 alone.”
• Public Attention Alert: We place this alert to inform consumers if someone associated with the business was accused of, or the target of, racist behavior. This is the most common alert used in incidents involving allegations of racism.”
• Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert: In rare circumstances, when a business allegedly engages in egregious acts of racism (such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols), the User Operations team may activate this type of alert and will always link to a news article from a credible media source that includes factual evidence so people can learn more about the underlying events. Incidents that warrant this escalated alert are extremely rare. At this time, only a couple businesses out of the millions of businesses on Yelp have this type of alert enabled.”
Will these alerts appear on a Yelp business page forever?
“No. After we’ve seen activity dramatically decrease or stop on a business page, we will then clean up the page so that only first-hand consumer experiences are reflected. Alerts can appear for days or several weeks, and the need and timeframe is determined on a case-by-case basis once user activity has decreased.”
How does Yelp determine what’s racist?
“Only Yelp’s User Operations team has the ability to place media-fueled Consumer Alerts on a business page after a thorough investigation of the incident. For incidents where someone associated with the business was accused of, or is the target of, racist behavior, our moderators will first default to a general Public Attention Alert. We will only escalate to a Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert when there’s a news article from an established and credible media outlet that includes factual evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee — such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols.”
Final Thoughts from Standout Arts:
Business owners need to be fully aware of this new Yelp alert and understand both the business and social consequences of racism. To that end, they must personally take responsibility for fair treatment of their employees and consumers. Why? First and foremost, because it is the moral and ethical thing to do. Secondly, failing to do so could result in Yelp’s “Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert” which could be very damaging to a business's reputation. And finally, online reviews are pivotal elements for SEO and while negative reviews can often be smoothed over by a sincere reply from the business owner, being "flagged" would be very harmful and extremely difficult to overcome.
SOURCES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Mike Ruch is the Administrator for Valley Good Neighbor and Account Executive for Standout Arts. He loves to create killer websites with a clear call to action so you can enjoy consistent and sustainable growth. You can reach Mike by phone at 540-447-9632 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org