TripAdvisor banishes fake reviews

The influential travel Web site TripAdvisor has been quietly posting disclaimers to warn customers of hotels writing fake reviews to improve their popularity rankings or hurt competitors.

090715-tripadvisor-hmedium.h2

The red disclaimers near the names of hotels show that TripAdvisor has a problem with fake reviews, travel bloggers and industry experts say. One blogger, Jeff Tucker, warned that without changes to restore credibility to the reviews the site is “going to come crumbling down behind them.”

Experts say manipulated reviews can be overly positive, citing features — such as the brand of faucet fixtures — regular travelers rarely notice. Or they can be extremely negative, with a competitor bashing a hotel that generally has more favorable reviews. Fake posters often have only one or a few reviews, whereas many regular TripAdvisor users post numerous reviews.

Travel industry insiders — but often not casual travelers — understand the financial incentives hotels have to artificially inflate their rankings on the site. Some offer discounts or freebies to patrons who write positive reviews or hire public relations companies who say they can improve the reviews.

The company has policies to weed out suspicious reviews, screens reviews before they are posted, and uses automated tools to identify attempts to corrupt the system, Ferencsik said. Users can also report reviews they find not credible.

Full story here