Fake reviews on TripAdvisor: company claims it removed a million fraudulent posts last year

The  Staff Canteen

TripAdvisor has published a Transparency Report following allegations that it fails to to identify and take down fake reviews, potentially affecting businesses, hotels, and restaurants. 

The report shows that in 2018, the user-generated review site took down more than a million fraudulent posts, from an estimated 66 million published that year. 

The company claims that there is much "inaccurate speculation" surrounding the number of fake reviews on its site, and that all reviews are scanned by an automated system, while some are checked by moderators. The million posts taken down represented 2.1% of all the reviews posted that year, and of that share, the company says 73% were blocked before they were posted. 

The platform has had its fair share of critics, and for good reason: Vice journalist Oobah Butler exposed its flaws two years ago when his garden shed was named best restaurant in the country on the online review site  - and many have been dubious of the system, widely perceived as detrimental to the industry in that reviews are often unchecked, arbitrary, but affect the overall visibility of a restaurant. 

Michelin-starred chef Paul Foster has been a vocal critic of the system; he was embroiled in an argument with the company when he claims it refused to take down what clearly was a fake review, and has stated that the platform lets paid-for content slip through its nets unpunished. 

In the report foreword, CEO Stefen Kaufer said: "Too often we have seen third parties share inaccurate figures about the
authenticity of review content and the scale of fraud on our platform."

"These third parties do not have access to the key technical data necessary to determine whether or not a review is fraudulent. We do – and with this report, for the first time ever, we want to provide definitive insights into the details and data behind our extensive content moderation efforts." 

Meanwhile, senior director of trust and safety at the company, Becky Foley, told the Telegraph that Facebook and Google are, by their lack of action, complicit in allowing thousands of fake reviews to "exploit and extort small businesses for cash." 

She said: "It is time for other platforms like Facebook and Google stepped up to the plate to join us in tackling this problem head on." 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th September 2019

Fake reviews on TripAdvisor: company claims it removed a million fraudulent posts last year