Early last month, Yelp announced two initiatives to help fight racism and promote the diversity among our local businesses. They expanded a relationship with the non-profit Open To All. The partnership will make training resources available for all small and medium sized businesses. Those resources help promote a better practice of diversity and inclusion in businesses. Additionally, the partnership created new Yelp customer alerts. Those new Yelp customer alerts inform customers of possible prejudiced behavior.

The Changes

This new alert shuts down all review posting for the business in question. This alert serves as a warning to consumers that states:

Recently someone associated with this business was accused of racist behavior…

The alert also links news reports that document the alleged conduct. When this alert goes up, Yelp will disable new reviews for this business. This helps prevent people getting on Yelp just to share their ideas and opinions on the business and the incidents.

The Pros & Cons

This customer alert is a very good and active way to help prevent racism and other forms of discrimination. To this effect, this alert could be a very good thing for small business owners. However, it could also be very bad. Small businesses are very important to our communities and to the people who live around them. This alert could bring a lot of good attention to some small businesses that are actively trying to help fight the racism that has flooded our country recently.

Larger businesses have a lot more flexibility if they have problems with racism because they can release a statement, fire the person and everything will be forgotten about within a short period of time. When a small business gets a claim like this against them, it causes quite a bit of damage. So, yes this review is such a good thing for our society and for our communities, but there is nothing preventing a disgruntled customer from trying to destroy a hard-working business now.

How It Helps

The good thing about this alert is that they lock down the reviews pending an investigation. This eliminates virtual attacks. However, it also allows Yelp to do their own research on the actions of the employees. Yelp is making valiant efforts to help protect and clear up any confusion or any wrongful accusations stated against a company or business. But in the same way they are making an effort to protect communities from businesses that could be harming those living there.

Public Attention Alert

Now with every situation, there could be times when there might just be a difference of opinions, and in these cases they will release a Public Attention Alert against the company which still turns off the ability to write reviews. This alert is:

“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 customers 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.”

This does include all political signs, flags, or propaganda in or connected to the business.

In Conclusion

This alert is very good in most cases, but this alert also opens the door for businesses to be scrutinized and criticized for accusations that might not always be true. The effort from small businesses has always been a very large, and obvious one as they have to compete with larger companies. Now with this alert in place, this could make it or break it for some companies, while also being a very helpful and informative tool.