- Two women said TripAdvisor told them to write negative reviews for businesses listed on its site after they accused employees of the businesses of sexual assault, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
- The company said negative reviews would inform other people about what happened.
- But reviews on the site appear chronologically, so negative posts could get buried under other reviews, leaving users unaware that others had reported sexual misconduct at a business.
- A spokesperson for TripAdvisor told INSIDER in a statement that it does not remove business listings and said putting a “first-hand account” of what happened was the best way of informing others about incidents.
TripAdvisor is being criticized over its handling of sexual assault allegations against businesses on its website after women accused the company of telling them to write negative reviews about their experiences.
In an article published on Tuesday by The Guardian, two women who allege they were raped by employees of businesses listed on TripAdvisor said the travel website encouraged them to write negative reviews to inform others about their experiences instead of flagging the businesses for reported misconduct.
One of the women, who has not been publicly named, told The Guardian that she was raped buy a tour guide whose business was listed on TripAdvisor. After reporting the incident to the police and the hotel where he worked, the woman contacted TripAdvisor in hopes of warning other tourists.
She said TripAdvisor responded by suggesting she write a first-person review detailing her alleged sexual assault instead of flagging the business for health and safety risks, according to the newspaper.
“I was in disbelief,” the woman told The Guardian. “Was this global company pushing me to relive my trauma on their forum for everyone to see and comment, or worse of all for the perpetrator who is still out there, to respond to me, troll me? It left me feeling shattered, hopeless and alone.”
A spokesperson for TripAdvisor told INSIDER in a statement that it does not remove business listings and instead allows reviews so 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.
But TripAdvisor ranks businesses based on ratings by users, and because individual reviews are ranked chronologically, a negative post detailing sexual assault could be taken over by newer reviews.
The Guardian found 40 examples of reviews describing sexual assault by employees of businesses listed on the travel website. Of the 40, companies only replied to 14 cases.
A TripAdvisor spokesperson told INSIDER that listing a business on its site is not an endorsement.
“What makes TripAdvisor different from other platforms is that it would be a disservice to the public to remove these listings, and therefore withhold valuable information. Allowing a business to operate in the shadows, without having a transparent record of travelers’ experiences at that location, potentially puts travelers at risk,” the statement said.
The TripAdvisor spokesperson told INSIDER 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.
The global site said it monitors news and media for incidents occurring at businesses on its website that could pose as health and safety risks. In an event TripAdvisor comes across one that could be a risk, it posts notifications about the incidents on listings on a case-by-base basis.
But the TripAdvisor spokesperson told INSIDER that it does not monitor police report filings that go unreported in the media as a way to record health and safety risks.
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