The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating Trip Advisor after the travel site was accused of censoring some user reviews that reported some rapes and assaults on the site. The Trip Advisor investigation by the FTC was reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Supposedly the Trip Advisor investigation was revealed by the FTC in a letter to a Wisconsin senator.
Trip Advisor Investigation By The Federal Trade Commission
The Trip Advisor investigation was revealed in a letter sent last week to Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin by the FTC. This was reported recently by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, wrote to Baldwin "The commission has a strong interest in protecting consumer confidence in the online marketplace, including the robust online market for hotel and travel. When consumers are unable to post honest reviews about a business, it can harm other consumers whose abilities to make well-informed purchase decisions are hindered and harm businesses that work hard to earn positive reviews."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently did an investigation into the matter, and FTC's probe is apparently a response to the investigation. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found that the site deleted reports of rapes, blackouts and other injuries and deaths among travelers vacationing in Mexico.
The FTC did not comment specifically on TripAdvisor, and cited agency policy of not confirming the existence of investigations. The FTC did say that a site making false statements about its services may violate federal law. "Claims that a user review website makes about its services may violate the FTC Act if they are false or misleading," the FTC said in a statement. "Whether taking down negative reviews violates the FTC Act would depend on the particular facts."
Trip Advisor issued a statement saying that it was unaware of an FTC investigation and that it was not contacted by the FTC. The statement continued saying "As a user-generated content platform that receives hundreds pieces of content per minute every day, we believe our guidelines work well, but we also know we don't always get it right. As we always do, we continue to review our guidelines and will continue to update them to better serve our users and businesses we support."
After the report was published by the Journal Sentinel earlier in November, Trip Advisor added warnings to business pages where public safety issues were reported, including sexual assaults... The warnings reportedly will remain on a company's Trip Advisor page for 3 months and could be extended if the negative reports continue. It is unknown how long the Trip Advisor investigation will last.
Trip Advisor is a popular and very useful site to find travel information about destinations, hotels, restaurants... The Trip Advisor investigation is troubling to hear about, and hopefully it will results in improvements in the travel industry and travel sites. If Trip Advisor deliberately deleted user comments and reviews warning other people of potential problems and danger, then they should get what they deserve. We will stay tuned to see what the outcome will be. For now they are innocent until proven guilty.
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