Should Yelp Call Out Racist Businesses? [Content Made Simple]

Issue #193: Also, why are conspiracy theories so addictive right now?



Yelp Logo (STOCK)

This should be totally fine and likely won’t be abused in any way whatsoever…



It’s not totally clear what exactly will qualify as “racist behavior” under the updated alert system, but it continues Yelp’s alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement. The company put public attention alerts into place following what it said was a rise in social activism around the Black Lives Matter movement. The public attention alerts let customers know why a business might have more than the usual number of reviews due to increased attention in the media.


Yelp is trying to do its part to fight against the rampant racism that is becoming ever more apparent in the United States, and its heart definitely seems to be in the right place. I just think this feature could be abused and could lead to businesses being “canceled” for behavior that someone has called “racist” that may not actually be racist. It appears as though Yelp will require a news article to verify the racist activity of a business before it is given the Scarlet Letter of Racism, but is a news article of alleged racist activity enough to take such an action?


Episode #023 (the LeBron episode): Internet Monopolies and Remembering HOTorNOT

This week we talk a little bit more about the U.S. House committee’s conclusion that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are monopolies. Then we talk about the old social platform HOTorNOT and how it has influenced social media today.


Link#1: Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Addictive Right Now

Kevin Roose’s reporting on conspiracy theories online is always top-notch. In this piece, he starts out investigating leftist conspiracy theories about Trump’s COVID diagnosis and then explores why conspiracy theories are so attractive right now in general.

“Conspiracy theorists love a vacuum,” said Kathryn Olmsted, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the history of conspiracy theories. “If they’re not getting answers, they’re going to come up with their own.”

Some of what’s happening is related to the dynamics of social media platforms, which favor bold, engaging claims over dry and careful ones. But there seems to be something else happening, too — a force that is pulling us all toward conspiracy theories these days, no matter our political persuasion.

Link #2: Social Dilemma Star Tristan Harris Responds to Criticisms

This is a good interview from the main character of The Social Dilemma, Tristan Harris.

Let’s talk about your main thesis in the Social Dilemma movie. You say tech companies are controlling our lives through algorithms — Is that right?

The major point of the film is that a business model that is infused in the social communications infrastructure that 3 billion people live by, and are dependent on, is misaligned with the fabric of society and specifically poses a kind of existential threat to democracy and a functioning society. If we don’t have a common conversation or a capacity to trust and to have shared faith in the same information and to reach agreement, then nothing else works in a society.

While we’ve had polarized and hyperpartisan media on television and radio before. Social media has become the background upstream, a place that even television, radio, Fox News, MSNBC get their information on Twitter, et cetera. I think that this business model of doing whatever is best for engagement will always privilege giving each person their own reality.

Link #3: Meet Ricky Desktop, The Most Viral Beatmaker on TikTok

The creativity I see on TikTok continues to impress me. This is an interesting story on a young guy who makes beats with the primary purpose of becoming TikTok sounds. So interesting.

Ricky Desktop is one of the biggest hitmakers of 2020 — though there’s a good chance you’ve never heard his name. Ricky has made more than 20 beats destined for TikTok this year, and more than a half dozen of them have gone on to be huge viral hits. If you’ve spent any time using the app, you’ll probably recognize some of his sounds: “The Chicken Wing Beat,” “The Dice Beat,” “The Boat Beat,” and most recently “The Banjo Beat.”

The latest beats were made from the garage of his parents’ house, where Ricky — not his real name — moved after graduating college last year. Ricky, now 22, is a multi-instrumentalist who’s been playing music since he was 14. Before he shifted to TikTok, he was creating short raps about modern tech, like Venmo, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn. “I had zero traction,” he told The Verge.


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