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

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th September 2019

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." 

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th September 2019

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