TripAdvisor Deleted Reviews with Rape and Sexual Assault Warnings

At least a dozen travelers around the country say that travel review site TripAdvisor deleted their warnings to other vacationers about sexual assault, rape and blackouts. The site claimed women’s attempts to protect each other from assault violated their “family-friendly” or “hearsay” content policies.

Since 2000, TripAdvisor has become one of the primary sources travelers go to for information. The $1.5 billion company has hundreds of millions of site visitors around the world with sites in 28 different languages. Travelers use TripAdvisor to seek reviews on the quality and value of different sites, hotels and activities, but also to determine the relative safety of their travel plans.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, however, TripAdvisor may have been actively erasing users warnings and putting people at risk of sexual assault.

The Journal Sentinel has extensively reported on safety issues at Mexican resorts and discovered that tourists who tried to warn others of the safety risks, based on their own experiences, were effectively silenced by TripAdvisor.

Travelers who use the site may think they’re reading unbiased, unfiltered accounts of fellow travelers’ experiences, when in fact TripAdvisor’s policies and algorithms—not to mention their business model—”obscure the public’s ability to fully evaluate the information on its site,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In July, a woman posted in a TripAdvisor forum asking if it was safe for her and her husband to travel to Riviera Maya. They’d heard stories about tainted alcohol at resorts and travelers blacking out or being assaulted as a result. Her question received 55 answers. Twenty-four of those answers told her she had nothing to worry about; four were irrelevant. The other 27 posts were all removed from the forum. TripAdvisor said the comments were deemed “inappropriate,” “off-topic” or not “family-friendly.”

The company refused to share the original comments with reporters.

Based on the remaining 24 responses, this woman might feel more confident in her decision to visit Riviera Maya. Unless, that is, she knew that TripAdvisor has a history of deleting posts warning travelers about sexual assault and other dangers that aren’t beneficial to its bottom line.

According to the Journal Sentinel, “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.”

When Wendy Avery-Swanson, 52, tried to share a review of a Mexican resort, TripAdvisor deleted it. According to the company, her first-hand account of blacking out after being served a small amount of alcohol from the swim-up bar was considered hearsay.

Avery-Swanson is not alone. Seven years ago, Kristie Love tried to warn other travelers after she was raped by a security guard at an all-inclusive Mexican resort. She returned to her hotel at night to find that her keycard no longer worked, and stopped to ask a security guard if she was headed the right direction to get her key fixed. The guard then motioned for Love to follow him, overpowered her and raped her. When she reached the lobby, the hotel staff refused to call the police.

Her story was removed from TripAdvisor because it wasn’t “family-friendly.”

The next year, a 19-year-old woman on vacation with her family reported that she was assaulted by a security guard in the same hotel. Yet another woman, Jamie Valeri, was assaulted there in 2015 after her and her husband unexpectedly blacked out.

Valeri also tried to warn others on TripAdvisor but her review was considered hearsay and deleted. She says that had TripAdvisor not deleted the other women’s warnings, “maybe we wouldn’t have gone or maybe that wouldn’t have happened to me.”

Hotels pay TripAdvisor when users click on their links or book stays. It is in TripAdvisor’s best interest for people to continue traveling to hotels that pay it a commission or for advertising.

TripAdvisor insists that its reviews are separate from its business initiatives, but this latest investigation leaves many feeling suspicious of which perspectives are missing. There’s no way to know how many times women have tried to warn others about sexual assault and how many times TripAdvisor has erased their efforts.

Take action!

Demand that TripAdvisor stop deleting safety warnings about sexual assault.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition and use this handy guide to get you started. Youll find Care2′s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

Photo Credit: Flickr

85 comments

Mike R
Mike R1 months ago

Signed, thanks

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Mike R
Mike R1 months ago

Signed, thanks

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Mike R
Mike R1 months ago

Signed, thanks

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Deborah W
Deborah W1 months ago

IF TRUE that TripAdvisors has been actively erasing users warnings and putting people at risk of sexual assault, not a good sell for tourists or the continuation of their now $1.5 billion company with hundreds of millions of site visitors around the world, with sites in 28 different languages. Travelers should continue to speak out, sharing their personal experiences with family and friends, asking them to share with their friends, until social media takes it viral and the outcry is too large to ignore. Only then will the quality and value of different sites, hotels and activities, and their relative safety be cleansed of all the bullshit. CUSTOMERS fuel their bottom line ... share and keep them honest.

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Joan E
Joan E1 months ago

Not such great trip advisors, are they?

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One Heart i
One Heart inc1 months ago

Thanks!!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cABVKIPk_u0

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Claudia S
Claudia S1 months ago

Thank you for info

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Ann B
Ann B1 months ago

this deserves a penalty!!!!

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Chad A
Chad A1 months ago

Signed.

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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