Yelp is now allowing users to label businesses for "racist behavior,” which critics argue is "weaponizing defamation."
“The downside risk of what Yelp is doing, I don't think they thought through. And I don't the think the harm that is going to come to some businesses who may not deserve it, I don't know that Yelp has thought through fully,” says Houston attorney Chris Tritico.
Tritico says labeling a business as racist is very different than reporting bad service or a dirty dining room.
“If they're dirty and they have rodents, they could cover that. We cleaned the restaurant. We closed and took care of that. But you can't wash off a racism claim. You can't do anything about that. You can't make it go away.”
Texas and other states have laws against posting bogus reviews about businesses, but Tritico says they're hard to prosecute. That's why he believes small mom-and-pop businesses will be hurt most, because they don't have the resources the larger chains do.
“If it's untrue and it's just someone's wrongful perception about you, it could cost you your livelihood and your entire business and there's nothing you can do to stop it once that snowball starts headed down that hill.”