Almost 1 million fraudulent Tripadvisor reviews in 2020

Website penalised 34,605 properties for fraudulent activity and banned 20,299 members

Travellers submitted more than 26 million reviews in total last year, more than 8 million for hotels, more than 12 million for restaurants, and more than 4 million for experiences, attractions, and activities. Photograph: Getty Images

Travellers submitted more than 26 million reviews in total last year, more than 8 million for hotels, more than 12 million for restaurants, and more than 4 million for experiences, attractions, and activities. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Almost 1 million reviews submitted for inclusion on Tripadvisor – equivalent to 3.6 per cent of the total – were determined to be fraudulent by the website last year.

In its second transparency report – the first was released in 2019 – the travel guidance platform said 67.1 per cent of the fake reviews had been caught before making it on to the platform by its pre-posting moderation algorithm.

In 2019, Tripadvisor rejected as “simplistic” analysis by consumer group Which? of 250,000 hotel reviews on its site, which found one in seven had “blatant hallmarks” of being fake.

The report, published on Wednesday, also provided details on paid reviews, the phenomenon that has grown out of businesses desire to boost their rankings with positive reviews and accrue the benefits of a high Tripadvisor rating.

The company said it removed paid reviews from 131 countries last year, including “a spike” in such reviews originating in India – but not necessarily for businesses in the country. As a result, India topped the list of countries from which the most paid reviews emanated last year, with Russia dropping out of the Top 10. Further, the company said its fraud investigators identified 65 new paid review sites and blocked submissions from a total of 372 different paid review sites last year.

The report said: “While our overall review contributions dropped in line with the slowdown in travel, fraudulent submissions – which of course are not predicated on real customer experiences – did not follow the same trend. Our team remained vigilant and effective at catching would-be fraudsters, and as a result the proportion of reviews we rejected or removed increased compared with pre-pandemic 2018 figures.”

While they may pose the biggest threat to the platform’s integrity and those of the businesses on it, fake reviews are not alone in being removed. In total, more than 2 million review submissions (representing 8.6 per cent the total) were rejected or removed from the Tripadvisor platform, for instance because they included use of profanity.

While travel restrictions imposed by Covid led to a reduction in submitted reviews – the number in August last year (approximately 4 million) was half that in August 2018 – the virus also posed other challenges, which Tripadvisor said led to its team manually assessing an additional 257,022 reviews, of which 46,145 were removed by moderators for violating posting guidelines.

They included reviews containing encouragement to ignore government guidelines, discouraging testing or spreading misinformation, with racially insensitive comments including references to the “China” or “Wuhan” virus or criticising a business for introducing Covid safety measures.

In total, Tripadvisor penalised 34,605 properties for fraudulent activity and banned 20,299 members for failing to abide by the platform’s community standards last year.

Travellers submitted more than 26 million reviews in total last year, more than 8 million for hotels, more than 12 million for restaurants, and more than 4 million for experiences, attractions, and activities. Over half (54.1 per cent) of submissions related to customer experiences in Europe, with 23.5 per cent relating to North America.

– Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.