TripAdvisor has been caught in the crosshairs again in the UK. The British Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the travel website’s claims such as “more than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from real travellers” are misleading and must be removed.
Reason being that, frankly, some of TripAdvisor’s user reviews can’t be trusted.
The ASA found that TripAdvisor did not have any system in place for verifying that the reviews on their website were genuine.
Hoteliers have complained about fraudulent defamatory reviews for years, and the Travel News Editor at the Telegraph in the UK claimed in a story yesterday to have successfully uploaded an “entirely fake review” that bumped a guesthouse up in standings.
And just yesterday, the Irish Times reported that a prominent hotel chain, Carlton Hotel Group, asked employees to write positive reviews of its hotels on TripAdvisor and to post flattering photos. (To make them look authentic, employees were advised: “Not professional photos but good quality from a digital camera is fine.”)
TripAdvisor insists that the number of fake reviews on its sites are negligible and that it has systems in place to screen fraudulent content.
Still, the ASA ruled that the travel company can’t claim all its reviews can be trusted if even a few are fake.
As for TripAdvisor.ca (Canada) and TripAdvisor.com (U.S.), the sites’ About Us pages still claim to offer “trusted advice from real travellers”.