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TripAdvisor Deleted Reviews Warning of Sexual Assault, Rape

Travel review website TripAdvisor has been accused by over a dozen tourists of deleting reviews that warn of sexual assault and other dangers. (Image credit: Grand Velas Riviera Maya Follow/Flickr)

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, more than a dozen tourists have accused TripAdvisor of deleting reviews that warn potential travelers of sexual assault, rape, and other dangers.

Since July, when the Journal Sentinel began investigating the mysterious death of a Wisconsin college student in Mexico — and found widespread problems with tainted alcohol, derelict law enforcement and price gouging from hospitals — more than a dozen travelers from across the country have said TripAdvisor muzzled their first-hand stories of blackouts, rapes and other ways they were injured while vacationing in Mexico.

The company gives various reasons that reviews might not comply with community standards, including comments that are:

  • Determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community
  • Off-topic
  • Determined to use language that is not "family-friendly"

Due to the sometimes obscure rules pertaining to reviews and the fact that hotels and other clients have a financial relationship with TripAdvisor, the Journal Sentinel says it is difficult to ascertain which reputations are accurate.

There’s no way to know how many negative reviews are withheld by TripAdvisor; how many true, terrifying experiences never get told; or for site users to know that much of what they see has been specifically selected and crafted to encourage them to spend.

The company claims to have a boundary in place to keep reviews and business deals from mingling.

TripAdvisor says it maintains a firewall between its customer-generated content and the money-generating deals it makes with hotels and chains, such as Iberostar, and online booking partners, such as Expedia and Priceline.

TripAdvisor also employs numerous filters and about 300 people to track reviews and ensure content trustworthiness, but it has found itself in trouble for letting fake or unprovable reviews slip through in the past.

The company has faced criticism from the business community for allowing unverified posts containing seriously damaging accusations, such as a resort manager being a pedophile. In a growing number of cases, businesses have threatened to sue reviewers for their negative comments, a trend that has prompted TripAdvisor to push for stronger laws to prevent such suits.

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