TripAdvisor fined €500,000 for "publishing misleading information"
That empty space between Christmas and New Year is traditionally the time when people look around at the grey nothingness and decide to book a holiday. And when booking a holiday, why not check out the reviews on TripAdvisor? At least that way you know whether the deal you're getting on your accommodation is worth it.
Assuming of course that Trip Advisor reviews are worth the paper they (aren't) printed on...
Italy’s antitrust authority has fined the travel planning website TripAdvisor €500,000 (£392,000) following complaints of improper business practices
In a statement, the authority stated that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as “authentic and genuine”.
A UK regulator has previously said that TripAdvisor needs to stop claiming that all the reviews on its British site were written by independent travellers and therefore reliable.
Tripadvisor and its Italian arm have been given 90 days to present a remedy and should stop "publishing misleading information about the sources of its reviews", a practice started in September 2011. The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers welcomed the decision, citing the numerous examples of “defamatory” reviews that have appeared on the site.
TripAdvisor said, in a statement, that it would appeal the findings and believed its processes, including a team to detect fraudsters as well as automated tools and algorithms, were “extremely effective in protecting consumers from the small minority of people who try to cheat our system”.
"We firmly believe that TripAdvisor is a force for good — both for consumers and the hospitality industry,” added a completely independent traveller who had visited Trip Advisor in August 2013.
Of course, there are two issues with 'misleading' reviews- either poor accommodation is being touted as higher quality, or decent accommodation is being slated, possibly by competitors, for personal gain, and it is this latter point that has forced the Italian authority to take action. The US company said it disagreed with the decision and would appeal.