Photo: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

Business owners can opt into feature, while the app promises to monitor for racist harassment

Yelp users can now search for restaurants and other businesses that are Asian owned, thanks to a tool that the reviews platform announced today. According to the company, Yelp searches for Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. increased by 130 percent in February 2021 compared to the same time last year, suggesting that consumers are actively and increasingly looking to frequent those kinds of businesses.

Similar to how women, Black, and Latinx business owners can add those attributes on their Yelp listings, Asian business owners now have the option of self identifying if they log into their accounts and follow a few steps. In its announcement of the feature, Yelp notes that the company will seek to protect businesses who mark themselves as Asian owned by “proactively monitoring business pages for hate speech against the Asian community to mitigate and remove any hateful, racist or harmful content.”

This new tool rollout comes at a time of a rise in attacks against Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., including the Atlanta shooting that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. In a new report, the New York Times found more than 110 incidents of anti-Asian violence, verbal harassment, and vandalism that were explicitly race based over the past year, ranging from punches to the face to shoves to the ground, all accompanied by slurs and references to race or COVID-19. Early last year, while fears of the novel coronavirus were spreading, Chinese restaurants suffered from plummeting business and graffitied messages of hate, as some blamed Chinese eating habits for the coronavirus and as political leaders including President Donald Trump repeatedly referred to the disease as the “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” and “kung flu.”

Mockup of a Yelp listing with “Asian-owned” highlighted in the business details.
Photo: Yelp
Business owners on Yelp can now self select an “Asian-owned” attribute.

This latest feature from Yelp is part of the its larger public commitment “to stand in solidarity with communities of color,” which the company articulated last June as protests swelled across the U.S. following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among other victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence. In October, Yelp unveiled a tool to flag businesses accused of racism, telling Eater, “We unequivocally reject racism, whether it’s happening on or off the platform.”

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