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Newspaper report sparks Fed investigation of TripAdvisor

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Newspaper report sparks Fed investigation of TripAdvisor

Newspaper report sparks Fed investigation of TripAdvisor

Travel

The FTC is looking into reports TripAdvisor deleted reports of rape from its review site.

An investigative report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that alleged TripAdvisor deleted rape reports from its review site has prompted the Federal Trade Commission to look into the company.

The Journal Sentinel reported:

Since July, when the Journal Sentinel began investigating the mysterious death of a Wisconsin college student in Mexico — and found widespread problems with tainted alcohol, derelict law enforcement and price gouging from hospitals — more than a dozen travelers from across the country have said TripAdvisor muzzled their first-hand stories of blackouts, rapes and other ways they were injured while vacationing in Mexico…

… “To me it’s like censoring,” said Wendy Avery-Swanson of Phoenix, whose recent review of a Mexican resort — describing how she blacked out from a small amount of alcohol served at the swim-up bar — was removed from the website.

“It wasn’t hearsay,” as TripAdvisor claimed, said Avery-Swanson, 52. “It actually happened to me.” …

…There’s no way to know how many negative reviews are withheld by TripAdvisor; how many true, terrifying experiences never get told; or for site users to know that much of what they see has been specifically selected and crafted to encourage them to spend.

Following the newspaper’s work, and a letter from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the FTC on Nov. 17 wrote a letter stating it was looking into the TripAdvisor allegations. The Washington Post reports:

Prompted by the reports about TripAdvisor, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) wrote to the FTC this month, urging the agency to investigate the company to determine whether its practices violate consumer protection laws. Baldwin also noted that the allegations of censorship on TripAdvisor’s platform are especially worrisome, because the company has a financial incentive to maximize positive reviews and play down accounts of troubling experiences, as its revenue relies in part on hotel bookings.

“The practice of limiting or removing reviews that detail unsafe conditions could put future travelers, who look to TripAdvisor for accurate information, at risk,” she told The Washington Post in a statement. “I am concerned this may be a case of prioritizing profits over providing an open, honest forum for traveler reviews that its users expect.”

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