Travel website TripAdvisor will now warn users about hotels where incidents of sexual assaults have been reported. The announcement came after an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper found that the website was deleting reviews claiming sexual assault at hotels in Mexico.
The company has added red warning badges that will identify “health, safety and discrimination issues” at those hotels or resorts. “These badges will remain on TripAdvisor for up to three months,” company spokesperson Kevin Carter told The New York Times. “However, if these issues persist we may extend the duration of the badge. These badges are intended to be informative, not punitive.”
A committee of TripAdvisor employees will decide whether to add or remove badges. However, business listings will not be removed from the website regardless of the number of complaints.
If a hotel has been flagged, users will see a message highlighted in red that states: “TripAdvisor has been made aware of recent media reports or events concerning this property which may not be reflected in reviews found on this listing. Accordingly, you may wish to perform additional research for information about this property when making your travel plans.”
Responding to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s report, TripAdvisor Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kaufer said the company only allows posts with firsthand descriptions of “horrific events”. “When reviews have been rejected in the past, it has never been because they have said something bad,” Kaufer told NBC. “It is occasionally been because the review itself contained secondhand information. It contained other rumors or innuendo that was posted.”
The company, instead of deleting posts with secondhand information, will prompt users to edit them, Kaufer said.