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Yelp Takes Steps to Protect Restaurant Staff and Diners from Covid-19

By James Field | News | August 6, 2021 |

By James Field | News | August 6, 2021 |


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As Dustin points out depressingly in this morning’s Covid-19 roundup, things aren’t going great. Covid-19 infections are through the roof. Dangerous variants that we can’t predict are spreading. Ron DeSantis is days away from suggesting children infected with Covid-19 drink red tide seawater as a cure. My patience with anti-vaxxers hangs by a thread no thicker than a pube. For the love of God, I’m agreeing with Bill Kristol.

But in news that lowers my blood pressure, Yelp has made some intelligent improvements to their database. Business owners can now select two additional, free attributes: “Proof of Vaccination Required” and “All Staff Fully Vaccinated.” The changes were announced yesterday.

“But James,” you say, “Sometimes people act like buttholes. What’s to stop anti-vaxxer buttholes from inundating responsible cinemas, restaurants, and stores with hate-filled one-star reviews about their right to infect your grandma with a potentially deadly virus?”

First of all, it’s a little weird that you talk to your computer. Second, Yelp is on it. As described in yesterday’s press release, the company is implementing the same measures they do to protect businesses from hate speech.

For businesses that activate “Proof of vaccination required” and “All staff fully vaccinated” on their Yelp page, we are putting protective measures in place to proactively safeguard them from reviews that primarily criticize the COVID health and safety measures they enforce. We put a similar system in place when we launched our Black-owned attribute in June 2020, and followed the same process for our other identity attributes, such as Latinx-owned, Asian-owned, and LGBTQ-owned. By proactively monitoring business pages that activated these identity attributes for any hateful, racist or other harmful content that violates our Content Guidelines, we thwarted and removed nearly 400 reviews for containing harmful content.

I’m sure a lot of junk will still get through, at least temporarily, but I appreciate Yelp making the effort. We’ve all seen stories about the terrible abuse restaurant and supermarket staff already face as customers, Charlie Sheen tiger-blood-high on their own self-importance, launch into howler monkey shrieks any time they’re required to mask up. Maybe, hopefully, Pestilence and Typhoid Mary will scroll through Yelp on their saliva-streaked smartphones and find somewhere less discriminating for Date Night.

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