Yelp's history of racism exposed. Will they place their new warning on themselves?
They have gone social justice warrior on us all. Will they point their "discerning" lens on themselves?
Business review aggregator Yelp has gone full-blown social justice warrior with their service. Yesterday, they announced they will be placing warning labels on any businesses that are accused of being racist. Just a simple influx of accusations is enough to put a business on the defensive within the popular recommendation site. According to their website:
Communities have always turned to Yelp in reaction to current events at the local level. As the nation reckons with issues of systemic racism, we’ve seen in the last few months 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’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.
It goes perfectly with the times as so many companies in Silicon Valley have been virtue signaling about systemic racism, Black Lives Matter, and a perception of white supremacy rearing its ugly head. But as the Bible notes, one should cast out the beam from one's own eye before calling out the mote in our brother's eye. Is Yelp devoid of racism as a company? We investigated, and what we found was quite shocking.
On the latest episode of NOQ Report, Jeff Dornik and I discussed two example of mainstream media reporting racism at Yelp. One was against the company itself for allowing it to display Korean restaurants on searches for "dog meat" and Chinese restaurants on searches for "cat meat." According to the Tampa Bay Times:
A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers.
Also: "dog meat."
But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp up on that offer to show you the best restaurants for dog meat, and it almost always suggested a Korean restaurant. Swap dog for cat, and Yelp pointed toward Chinese restaurants.
The search results were duplicated by the Tampa Bay Times in Yelp searches for restaurants in a dozen U.S. cities and regions, including Tampa Bay, Chicagoland, the San Francisco Bay area, New York, Philadelphia, Denver, Boston, Austin, Seattle, Atlanta and Jacksonville.
Almost always, Korean restaurants appeared as sponsored results at the top — advertisements the restaurants paid for. "Cat meat" revealed a similar pattern, though the results, both sponsored and unpaid, almost always prioritized Chinese restaurants.
The second example was more recent and dealt with reports of racism between employees at the Phoenix Yelp office. According to Business Insider:
Some people of color at Yelp's Phoenix office said they experienced racism from hostile customers, as well as their own colleagues. They witnessed racist language, including nicknames and the n-word, as well as memes that mocked non-white clients.
Sexism, they say, occurred too, both from customers and colleagues. "You can only be called a c--t so many times before it wears on your soul," one said.
Business Insider spoke to nine current or former employees of the buzzy internet firm about the culture in its Phoenix office.
These sources said they experienced a hard-partying and sometimes-exclusionary atmosphere, with some claiming there was drug use in the office and that employees engaged in a sexual act at a Christmas party.
It's time to see if Yelp will turn its lens on itself. According to the blog post, all that's required to trigger the racism warning is for a company to have an influx of complaints and for there to be media references to the perceived racism. If we can get enough people to write reviews for Yelp Headquarters that indicate racism, they will need to examine their own practices. They probably won't, but it's worth a shot.
Yelp's racism is clear, documented by the media, and falls in line with their new labeling policy. Now, all we need is for enough people to write reviews. Will they label themselves with their new "Racist Behavior" warning? Let's find out.
Cantina Blues by Kevin MacLeod