Tripadvisor releases report into fake and fraudulent posts on its website

Novi Sad, Serbia - March 24, 2016: Close-up of an unrecognizable woman using the TripAdvisor App on her Lenovo A916 Android smartphone in a Renault car. TripAdvisor is an American travel website company providing reviews of travel-related content.
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Tripadvisor, a travel booking platform used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, has taken an indepth look at the validity of reviews posted on its website and released its findings.

The 2021 Review Transparency Report is the second to be released by Tripadvisor, which says it's the only review platform to produce a detailed into its moderation and fraud detection practices.

The report, which analysed a full year's worth of data on reviews submitted by the global travel community, found that in 2020 Tripadvisor rejected or removed over two million reviews that did not comply with the platform's community standards. 

In total, 3.6 percent of all review submissions last year were identified as fake, with the majority being rejected before they were posted to the Tripadvisor site.

New community standards designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation resulted in nearly 50,000 reviews being removed from the site.

"Knowing that you can rely on trusted guidance from travelers who have been there before has never been more important," Becky Foley, head of Trust and Safety at Tripadvisor said.

"As we continue the work to earn the trust travelers place in our business, we take the enforcement of our community standards incredibly seriously as we use the best in technology and human moderation practices to fight fraud." 

A not-so-happy National Gallery visitor
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A review of Tripadvisors reviews:

  • Travellers submitted over 26,000,000 reviews to the site in 2020
  • The average rating submitted by reviewers for businesses and locations listed on Tripadvisor was 4.30 out of 5.0, up from 4.22 out of 5.0 in 2018.
  • In 2020, more than two million review submissions (representing 8.6 percent of all submissions) were rejected or removed from the Tripadvisor platform, either by Tripadvisor's advanced review analysis system or manually by a member of the content moderation team. 
  • There are a number of reasons why Tripadvisor rejects or removes reviews, ranging from community standards violations, such as the use of profanity, to fake review activity.
  • Travelers or businesses flagged only 1.0 percent of reviews for potentially violating Tripadvisor guidelines. 
  • 85 percent of those community reports were assessed by our moderation team within four hours of being submitted, and 43 percent of all reviews reported by the community were removed following that assessment.
  • Only a small fraction of all review submissions - 3.6 percent - were determined to be fraudulent, totaling nearly 1 million reviews. 
  • Of those, Tripadvisor prevented 67.1 percent of all fake review submissions from ever making it onto the platform.
  • 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 in 2020. 
  • Tripadvisor fraud investigators also identified 65 new paid review sites and blocked paid review submissions from a total of 372 different paid review sites last year.
  • The company removed 46,145 reviews that did not comply with the platform's new COVID-19 posting guidelines.

The platform is also calling on other websites to work together with it to deal with fake online reviews regardless of where they are posted.

"We know from our investigations that if a fraudster is trying to infiltrate Tripadvisor with fake reviews, then they are targeting other platforms as well - and they will always follow the path of least resistance. We must stay committed, working together and in cooperation with law enforcement agencies, to stop fake reviewers and protect travelers," Foley said.