Watchdog raps TripAdvisor over unverified reviews
TripAdvisor said its fraud detection is 'advanced and highly effective' and that is 'not practical' for them to screen all reviews manually.
Sun, Feb 05 2012 at 6:28 AM
Photo: Edmond Terakopian/AFP
LONDON — Travel website TripAdvisor was censured by Britain's advertising watchdog on Feb. 1 and warned that it must not claim that all of its user-generated reviews are from real travelers.
The website, which says it is the world's biggest travel site, carried statements like "more than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from real travelers around the world" and "reviews that you can trust", the Advertising Standards Authority said.
But the watchdog upheld complaints that the website — which has a U.K.-tailored version — did not verify the reviews to the extent that it could guarantee they were all genuine.
It said that claims that all reviews on the site were from actual travelers were "misleading."
"We told TripAdvisor not to claim or imply that all the reviews that appeared on the website were from real travelers, or were honest, real or trusted," it said in a statement.
TripAdvisor said its fraud detection systems were "advanced and highly effective" but that it was "not practical" for them to screen all reviews manually.
A key complaint was made last year by an online reputation management firm called KwikChex.com, which said it had spoken to thousands of hotels claiming to be affected by malicious reviews, the Guardian reported.
The ruling "should be regarded as a benchmark ruling which applies to all websites which make claims about the reliability of their user-created content," the ASA's spokesman Matthew Wilson told the BBC.
Copyright 2012 AFP European Edition