Yelp “Resoundingly” Reviewing Reviews Based On “Racism” Claims.

The reputation of a business is often its life’s blood.

There used to be an old business axiom that a satisfied customer would tell three people while a dissatisfied customer would tell twenty. With the advent of the internet, review sites such as Yelp! make it so a person can rate their experiences at a business and be seen by thousands and thousands if not millions of people.

All of which sounds nice except for the idea when people lie, or when accusations of racism enters into the picture. Charges of racism at a business often have people flooding the reviews of the business with negative rankings, even if they have never visited the business itself.

Yelp! has decided to tackle this problem in a rather odd way.

They are going to moderate reviews of businesses and place a notice on business reviews that say the business has been accused of racism and racist actions while suspending people from evaluating the business itself.

Yelp! justifies this with what is arguably a false premise:

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.

There’s a problem with the term “systemic racism as noted economist Thomas Sowell says:

“You hear this phrase, ‘systemic racism’ [or] ‘systemic oppression’,” host Mark Levin told Sowell. “You hear it on our college campuses. You hear it from very wealthy and fabulously famous sports stars. What does that mean? And whatever it means, is it true?”

“It really has no meaning that can be specified and tested in the way that one tests hypotheses,” answered Sowell, who added that the currency of the phrase reminds him of the “propaganda tactics” of Nazi Germany, where Sowell claimed that if a lie was “repeated long enough and loud enough” it would be widely believed.

Yelp! seems to be basing a policy on an unproven theory.

Here’s the way that Yelp!’s new policy will work. If moderators see rising numbers of people commenting on a business and making charges of racism, Yelp! will suspend comments and ratings by people and post this warning:

The problem is that Yelp! itself is saying that there is an accusation of racism against the business, and display a link to an article about the accusation. (After all, if it is in the media, it must be true.) Without any facts other than a media report, Yelp! slaps a huge notice on the business for “racism” and while the notice prevents people from piling on, it also prevents people who know the business from coming to its rescue and saying “there is no racism there.”

The media runs with charges of “racism” which are often later proven to be false.

Here are two examples:

Althea Bernstein, 18, of Madison, WI, claimed four white men spewed racial slurs at her, threw lighter fluid on her, and set her on fire.

Authorities determined no such incident occurred.

Bernstein told her story on Good Morning America, the NFL celebrated her, and Meghan Markle called her.

A thorough investigation found that no one attacked Bernstein. The Madison Police Department stated:

The Madison Police Department dedicated significant resources to this case. The investigation was led by the MPD Violent Crime Unit, with support from the Forensic Services Unit and Central District. Detectives conducted numerous interviews, reviewed extensive video, and analyzed physical/digital evidence during the course of the investigation. MPD was assisted in these efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

Case findings were also reviewed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Both independently evaluated the facts and reached the same conclusion as MPD.

The MPD released the case documents and photos along with a timeline, statements, and video of the timeline.

Bernstein perpetrated a hoax based on racism which the media ran with.

Maybe the most egregious hoax is that concerning Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio, and home to Oberlin College. Gibson’s Bakery had operated as a small, local bakery since 1895.

[O]n November 9, 2016, his grandson and namesake, Allyn Gibson, who is white, had caught an underage African-American student named Jonathan Aladin first trying to buy and then trying to steal wine from the store with two college friends. When Gibson tried first to call the police and then to take a picture of Aladin with two bottles of wine under his shirt, Aladin slapped the phone out of his hands and ran out of the store. Gibson chased him across the street, tried to stop him, and was beaten up by Aladin and his friends. “I’m going to kill you,” Gibson reported Aladin saying. Aladin and his friends, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone, were arrested. The Gibsons pressed charges against the students despite the college’s repeated demands that they drop them.

Despite the fact that the thieves were caught with the goods, students decided to claim that Gibson’s Bakery was “racist” for wanting to have the two students arrested and charged. Oberlin College joined the fray with professors and administration saying Gibson’s Bakery was “racist.”

The media picked up the story and ran with Gibson’s Bakery being “racist.” Yelp! itself was flooded with bad reviews of the bakery which cost it business. The bakery had a contract with the College to provide baked goods and desserts. That contract was cancelled. The media wrote that the contract was cancelled because Gibson’s Bakery was “racist.”

Our point is that despite the facts of the case, if the new Yelp! policy were in place in 2016, Gibson’s Bakery would have had a warning graphic on its Yelp! reviews saying essentially saying “there’s racism here because the media said so,” when in fact there was no racism at all.

In the end, Gibson’s Bakery won a large verdict against the college (over $33 million and $11 million in legal fees) which Oberlin is now appealing.

Still, the problem with the Yelp! policy is that instead of looking into the accusations of racism, Yelp! is essentially saying a business is guilty of racism because a breathless and anxious media says so.

Wilfred Reilly, a professor of political science at Kentucky State University, began studying cases where racism was a charge and discovered that less than one-third of all incidents were true. That’s still too many, but it is far too few to support Yelp’s position that there is “systemic racism” in the country and to support a policy where the mere accusation of racism is reported by Yelp! and can result in a business being ruined, attacked, looted, burned etc.

Like so many companies, in an attempt to be “woke,” Yelp! is in fact contributing to the problem of racism.

Maybe that is their goal.

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