For those who don’t know, Yelp is a site that collects ratings about all manner of services – from restaurants, plumbers, electricians to hair salons. One can even search exclusively for black-owned businesses.
Yelp has now decided to add a function which alerts consumers of businesses accused of ‘racism.’
“At Yelp, we value diversity, inclusion and belonging, both internally and on our platform, which means we have a zero tolerance policy to racism….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….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.”
What if Yelp incorrectly accuses a corporation/business of racism based on a false claim?
Remember what happened to Oberlin College?
The whole issue started when a student from Oberlin College was caught shoplifting two bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery while trying to buy another with fake ID. Allyn Gibson, son of the owner chased down the shoplifter but was attacked by his accomplices. The perpetrators claimed racial profiling by the store.
Oberlin College’s Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo, joined in student protests calling Gibsons a “racist establishment.” It was then that Oberlein ended all business with the bakery (which had been an ongoing supplier to the college since 1885). Flyers were printed and the store attacked.
Several faculty staff joined the protestors who tried to shut down Gibsons despite the college president Carmen Twillie Ambar suggesting they were on private time and only representing their First Amendment rights, not representing the school.
After a police investigation turned over nothing to suggest racism on any level, Oberlin resumed its contract with Gibson’s but refused to publicly retract the accusations.
Gibson sued for defamation and won US$25 million. The three perpetrators admitted they’d made it all up and that the shop owner had a right to charge them for their crime.
We will have no sympathy if Yelp falls into this woke trap and gets sued for falsely accusing innocent businesses.