- TripAdvisor is facing backlash for its response to reports of sexual assault.
- One woman started a petition that has been signed more than 142,000 times, calling for TripAdvisor to change its policies after she says she was raped by a tour guide she found through the service.
- The woman says that when she asked TripAdvisor to help her warn others about the tour guide, the company suggested that she leave a review.
- The Guardian reported earlier this month that it found more than 40 instances in which people had reported sexual assault in TripAdvisor reviews, many of which were buried under other reviews.
TripAdvisor is facing backlash for its response to women who reported sexual assaults linked to people and businesses they found through the service.
As of Tuesday, more than 142,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for TripAdvisor to “Stop covering up sexual assaults.”
The petition was started last week by K., a woman who wishes to remain anonymous, after she told TripAdvisor that she had been raped by a tour guide with top reviews on the service.
“My assault was deeply traumatic and probably one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced,” K. writes on the Change.org page. “But the humiliation I was put through when I turned to TripAdvisor for help was almost worse.”
K. writes that when she asked TripAdvisor to help her warn others about the tour guide, the company suggested that she leave a review.
“Not only was this solution woefully inadequate to warn other tourists – my one star review would quickly get lost among minor complaints about the guide – but it required me to relive the painful details of my assault and out myself publicly in a place where my assailant could likely find me,” K. writes in the petition.
K. is not the only person highlighting issues with TripAdvisor’s policies. Earlier in March, The Guardian reported that – in addition to K.’s account – it uncovered 40 more examples of “reviews describing sexual assault, rape and groping committed by staff members of highly-rated hotels and other travel businesses.”
TripAdvisor did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but a spokesperson said earlier in March that it does not remove business listings and instead allows reviews so that customers can have “a transparent record of travelers’ experiences at that location.”
“TripAdvisor believes that every person impacted by a traveler safety issue, including sexual assault, has the right to write a first-hand account about their experience. Even a brief, non-descriptive mention that a traveler experienced an assault can serve as a powerful warning to the global travel community,” the statement said.
Critics of this policy point out that reviews highlighting sexual assault or other safety issues can be buried by other reviews. One women who told The Guardian she had been raped in a hotel in the Caribbean took issue with TripAdvisor’s solution, which would lump her response alongside one-star reviews complaining about dirty bed sheets.
TripAdvisor has noted that being listed on the site is not an endorsement. A TripAdvisor spokesperson told INSIDER earlier in March that leaving a review is the best way for other travelers to be alerted of incidents at the hotel, because the company does not monitor every business listed on the site individually.
“No one wants to relive a horrible experience, but that’s the best way for other travelers to be alerted,” the spokesperson said.
In 2017, TripAdvisor launched a temporary badge that would flag hotels and resorts that had been reported for sexual assault and other safety concerns. The travel website came under fire after a number of users reported having their accounts of rape and assault removed from the site, Business Insider reported at the time.