Story at a glance
- Yelp unveiled a new initiative to promote Asian-owned businesses.
- The new tool allows businesses to identify themself as “Asian-owned” in hopes of promoting them.
- Some worry the tool could actually endanger Asian-owned businesses and workers.
In the face of a surge in attacks on Asian Americans, Yelp unveiled a new initiative to promote Asian-owned businesses. But some are worried it could backfire.
On Tuesday, Yelp announced a new tool that would allow Asian-owned businesses to identify as such in hopes of promoting their businesses and fueling change.
Yelp tweeted, “Patronizing Asian-owned businesses is one small step we can all take to drive meaningful change and create lasting impact. #SupportAsianOwned.”
According to Yelp, the search rate for Asian-owned businesses in the United States increased by 130 percent in February 2021 compared to the previous year.
While the effort has garnered praise, some have voiced their concern that the new feature could inadvertently do the opposite.
By putting a spotlight on local Asian-owned businesses, it also makes it easier for people to target these businesses, potentially endangering their workers.
Attacks on Asian Americans have surged 150 percent in major U.S. cities. In March, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in a series of Atlanta-area spa shootings. And less than two weeks ago, a man attacked and beat a 65-year-old Filipina woman in New York as she walked down the sidewalk.
However, Yelp’s new feature is an opt-in, so owners can determine whether or not they want to use it. In the meantime, Yelp is optimistic about its potential to help the Asian American community.
Kathleen Liu, a senior PR specialist with Yelp, told Changing America via email, "Yelp is also taking proactive measures to monitor business pages for hate speech against the Asian community, including for businesses that opt into using the Asian-owned attribute, to mitigate and remove any hateful, racist or harmful content that violates our content guidelines."
"We recognize not all business owners in the AAPI community may feel comfortable identifying themselves as Asian-owned," said said, "which is why we're offering this tool where the decision to opt-in rests solely with the business."
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