The Weaponization of Yelp

Yelp, a popular online review site with one of the most popular cellular apps, says it will begin flagging businesses that are accused of racist conduct. The flag would be against establishments that have made the news for racism, but would be removed after 90 days, assuming that the matter involving racism has been resolved.

I’ve used Yelp before. It’s a user-driven review site that can help people decide which restaurants and other businesses to visit, and which ones to avoid. I admit that I’ve made the choice to choose a different establishment because I’ve read one-too-many negative reviews. I’ve even written some reviews, even if just to point out that a fast-food joint is, in fact, a typical fast-food joint (filthy parking lots, an unpleasant connotation of class-warfare from rude employees that could’ve applied for a different job, etc.).

Now, if an establishment makes the news for being racist, that establishment can be flagged on Yelp as racist.

Yelp’s decision to classify these restaurants in this manner on their own is likely to fend off the possibility of review-bombing, which has long been a problem on Yelp. You might have already known that anyone can write up a Yelp review, and in those reviews, people might not necessarily tell the truth. In fact, Yelp themselves has previously shown evidence of review fraud from businesses that have payed people for reviews on Yelp.

In a similar manner to how a group of people can review bomb, a group of people can also agree to make an accusation of racism to the point of the accusation getting media attention. This effectively weaponizes Yelp as yet another tool to tear someone down with the mere power of false accusation.

But it gets even worse in the context of post-truth regressive leftism. It usually goes that if just one person is making an accusation, it can usually be dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky grumbling of a malcontent. But if multiple people are making the same accusation, then it seems as though something must really be up. If a bunch of people can come to a consensus that someone should be a target, and agree upon a story to bring them down, that can be difficult for people to argue against, especially in a culture of people who presume guilt against people arrested for and charged with crimes.

I think this can be called the Jezebel effect.

If you’re wondering who Jezebel is, she’s someone we can read about in the Bible. She was married to a king who wanted a plot of land, but the owner wouldn’t sell it to him. So Jezebel invented a crime against him, and got a couple people to act as false witnesses. The land owner was then slain, and the king got the plot of land, but immediately afterwards got a stern talking-to from Elijah.

If you’re wondering what eventually became of Jezebel, she was defenestrated then eaten by dogs. Not a pleasant way to go.

Let’s be honest here; true racism in America is rare. You’d have to comb the land to find someone who is sincerely racist (as opposed to being falsely-accused). Ironically, the most racist language that’s propagated today comes from the groups traditionally thought of as being victims of racism. Come on, guys. You have to be the change you want to see.

While true racism is bad (as rare as it may be), the witch-hunt for racism has morphed into a mind-destroying toxicity of the worst kind, and is used as a false pretext for going after people merely for being on the other side. To that end, it’s a problem that persists for it’s own self-perpetuation. The weaponization of false accusation is too powerful a weapon for the mobs to want to give up.

It’s obvious to any sensible person why it’s wrong to hate someone for an immutable characteristic. But it should also be obvious why it’s wrong to target someone with a false accusation because you disagree with them, or suspect they aren’t doing enough to champion your own pet cause.

It’s too bad that there are as many people out there as there are who aren’t as strongly concerned with the truth of a matter as they are with its potential to further their own ideology. But as I’ve said before, if it’s necessary to lie to get people to accept what you’re trying to sell them, perhaps you shouldn’t believe it, either.

EDIT: A previous version of this article was written with the assumption that the designation as racist would be made by individual users. It does help to be careful with your news sources, as some of them can present a matter in a way more consistent with the bias of the news organization presenting it. Not that that’s a new problem.

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