Daily Insights

Restaurant Red Flags

By: Mackenzie Baker | Oct 19, 2020

Yelp announced plans to notify viewers if a restaurant they are looking at has a history of racist actions. The feature could help the company take a stand against racial injustice and build trust with its users. 

Restaurants on Yelp with a history or accusations of racist behavior will now have a marking alerting viewers as such. The alert includes a flag at the top of a restaurant’s page and a link from a news article verifying the incident. Yelp’s guidelines for flagging racist posts include any restaurant that uses “racist language, symbols or sentiment that clearly discredits the Black Lives Matter movement”. The feature arrives on the heels of review surges from users discussing restaurant’s “overtly racist actions” following racial justice protests across the U.S. this summer. When a user searches a page that has been flagged for racism they will see a banner stating “Business Accused of Racist Behavior”. Yelp will fully investigate each incident and suspend future posts until issues have been verified to ensure no restaurants are the pawn of a “review bombing” prank or, oppositely, have additional reports for racial misconduct. 

This year, Yelp has rolled out several racial equality initiatives, including highlighting Black-owned businesses and taking the 15% pledge, which is an oath dedicated to supporting more Black-owned companies. Since the debut of those features, Yelp saw a 617% increase in reviews mentioning Black-owned businesses and an influx in user searches for Black-owned restaurants. Yelp’s newest feature combines consumer support for Black Lives Matter with Yelp’s “Public Attention Alerts”, which debuted in May to warn users of a swarm of reviews for one place that may not necessarily be accurate. Since introducing the alerts, Yelp saw a 133% increase in reviews based on news reports, which is what led to the new “Racist Behavior” flaggings, where negative reviews are validated via news sources. The review feature shows Yelp is listening to consumer demand, according to a Gartner report, which could help it foster credibility with users. As 77% of American want to see companies speak out against racial injustice to maintain their trust, Yelp’s newest feature could boost customer loyalty and solidify it as an ally. Yelp currently serves 28 million visitors a month, so holding itself and the restaurants it features accountable could encourage viewers to use the app more frequently. 

Yelp joins brands like Uber and Ben & Jerry’s in taking a firm stance against racial injustice. By using its platform to keep consumers aware of the good and the bad of restaurants, Yelp could boost its image as a reliable and ethical brand.