This February, Google made it easier for everyone to support Black businesses with its “search Black-owned near you” feature. This new feature has been heavily advertised and promoted.
However, businesses and customers noticed a downside to Google’s Black History Month stunt: a surge of overwhelmingly racist reviews on business profiles.
We live in a world where online reviews matter. After stock trading app Robinhood shut down Gamestop’s stock purchases, thousands of angry people took to the Google Play Store reviews section of the app. In just one day, Robinhood’s rating fell from five stars to one star and Google swept in to delete nearly 100,000 negative reviews, saying that the reviews were “inorganic.”
Forbes reports that 93% of people read local reviews to make a shopping decision. So when Black businesses are sabotaged by similarly “inorganic” racist reviews, their business suffers—yet Google both reaps the profits from consumers using their search engine and benefits from good press about their “wokeness.”