Business Insider – The travel booking and review website TripAdvisor is built on trust between itself, its users, and the businesses that receive reviews and customers from the site.
But that trust is breaking in dangerous ways, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which found numerous examples of users reporting first-hand accounts of rape and assault in reviews for hotels and resorts, only to find that their testimonies had been removed by the site.
The users were given a variety of reasons for the deletions, from accusations of hearsay to violations of the site’s family-friendly policy. In one case, at least three users reported being raped or sexually assaulted at the same Mexican resort, only to find that their posts had been removed. The deletion of these reviews has likely resulted in subsequent travelers being put in harm’s way.
“Maybe we wouldn’t have gone or maybe that wouldn’t have happened to me,” Jamie Valeri, a mother of six from Wisconsin, told the Journal Sentinel, speculating as to how she might have been able to avoid being assaulted had a review of a prior guest’s similar experience not been removed from the site.
Like other review sites, TripAdvisor must strike a delicate balance between allowing users to speak freely and protecting businesses from lies or exaggerations, but it’s worth noting that the company receives advertising revenue and commissions from some hotels and resorts.
The company has a review filter and employees who monitor reviews they may deem unsuitable for the site. This review infrastructure includes some users and partners who work at or near the destinations that users can book on TripAdvisor, though the company has not been clear about how either are chosen.