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Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Yelp’s Media-fueled Consumer Alerts

Yelp recently expanded its media-fueled alerts to include two new alerts to address allegations of racism. Here are the five most frequently asked questions regarding the new alerts.

If consumers or businesses (such as competitors) report incidents of racism to Yelp, would that result in an alert?

No. Yelp’s consumers or business owners cannot tag, mark or place any alerts on business pages. Only Yelp’s User Operations team has the ability to place media-fueled Consumer Alerts, including the Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert, on a Yelp business page after a thorough investigation of media reports about the alleged incident.

We often learn about these events through signals we have in place that help us identify if a business page is seeing an unusual uptick in activity. If warranted, our team of moderators will investigate and temporarily disable the ability to post new content as we place the appropriate media-fueled Consumer Alert on a business’s page to inform our users that some of these reviews may not be based on first-hand experiences. 

What’s the difference between Yelp’s three media-fueled Consumer Alerts?

When a business makes the news, people may come to Yelp to express their views about a business. These types of media-fueled reviews violate our Content Guidelines because they’re not based on a first-hand consumer experience. 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.

What qualifies as a credible media outlet?

Yelp’s User Operations team thoroughly investigates every business that receives an unusual influx of reviews stemming from what people have read in the news or saw on social media. If a business page warrants a media-fueled Unusual Activity Alert or Public Attention Alert, we may link to a news article from an established and credible national or local media outlet; while a Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert will always link to a news article that includes factual evidence to give our users the fullest picture of what transpired with the business.

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.