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TripAdvisor fights back over fake review claims

Written by: Emma Lunn
The travel website’s own report about fake reviews blames Google and Facebook for enabling fraudulent write-ups.

TripAdvisor’s Review Transparency Report claims the platform stopped more than 1 million fake reviews from being published on the site in 2018. It says 2.1 per cent all review submissions last year were identified as fake – but most never made it onto the platform.

The report analysed a full year’s worth of data on reviews submitted by the global travel community.

Becky Foley, senior director of trust and safety at TripAdvisor, said: “Ensuring that TripAdvisor is a trusted platform for our users and listed businesses is a top priority. We’ve continued to make advancements to our industry-leading fraud detection efforts in recent years, but it’s a daily battle and we are far from complacent.

According to the report, 66 million reviews were submitted to TripAdvisor in 2018. It claims each one was analysed using advanced fraud detection technology, and 2.7 million were subject to additional human assessment by content moderators.

Less than one in 20 (4.7%) of all review submissions were rejected or removed for various reasons such as guideline violations or review fraud.

TripAdvisor claims less than 1 per cent of reviews were flagged by users or businesses for potentially violating TripAdvisor guidelines and says the site’s content moderation team reviewed most of these community reports within six hours of them being submitted.

The report also described TripAdvisor’s efforts to catch paid reviewers. Paid reviewers are individuals or companies that try to sell “user” reviews to businesses listed on the site.

Foley added: “While we are winning the fight against fake reviews on TripAdvisor, we can only protect our corner of the Internet. As long as other review platforms aren’t taking aggressive action, then fraudsters will continue to exploit and extort small businesses for cash. It is time other platforms like Google and Facebook stepped up to the plate to join us in tackling this problem head on.”

A report by Which? earlier this month found that TripAdvisor was failing to stop hotel rankings being boosted by fake reviews. TripAdvisor took down hundreds of reviews following the Which? Travel investigation.

Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “We recently uncovered widespread evidence of suspicious reviews on TripAdvisor and we believe the website should be doing more to tackle fake reviews and ensure users are not being misled – but it is far from the worst offender.

“Many of the world’s biggest websites are failing to take sufficient action against a flood of fake reviews – potentially exposing consumers to poor quality or unsafe products and even fraud. With billions of pounds of UK consumer spending now influenced by online reviews, it is vital that the competition regulator takes strong action against firms failing to stamp out fake reviews.”

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