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TripAdvisor Fined for Reviews in Italy
By: Jennifer Graber
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In the digital age, we typically turn to the Internet when in search of information. Whether we are buying appliances, traveling, renting a car, or whatever the case is — we go online. We look for pertinent details that will guide and mold our decision-making processes. However, imagine the shock when you begin to think that not all information online is what it claims to be. Misinformation and deception are all part of a situation TripAdvisor is facing in Italy.
 
TripAdvisor, the travel website, was recently fined 500,000 Euros. This is equivalent to approximately $600,000 US dollars. The Italian antitrust authority conducted a seven-month investigation. The investigation was launched after “consumers” and “hotel owners” lodged complaints regarding the travel site. An association for Italian hotel owners “cited” a litany of negative and “defamatory” reviews that popped up on TripAdvisor. The association says that the number of negative reviews are suspicious, and are likely not reliable. Perhaps the false reviews came from a couple of scorned customers or rival hotel owners. Regardless, they are out there for consumers to see and base decisions on.
 
Naturally TripAdvisor disagrees with the fine and judgment from the antitrust authority. The travel site has plans to appeal the decision shortly. The site believes its measures are sufficient for protecting against such incidents.
 
The claim against TripAdvisor was that it “failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews.” False reviews are only half the problem, however. The site promotes its reviews as being authentic, something that cannot be true if the reviews are falsified.
 
The situation with TripAdvisor is a rather interesting paradox. We have become reliant on the Internet. We seek data from it. We become leery if a business or service is not online. Haven’t we all skipped over a hotel because there were only stock photos or no reviews? Yet we also take information from online with a grain of salt.
 
And, on the flip side, we almost expect this information to be true and factual. If we are so dependent on the Internet and value its information, why are there also trust issues? What do we gain from continuing to utilize a medium that we only sort of trust? Is there a way to make the Internet a 100% truthful medium? Or is this particular situation more about what TripAdvisor made claims regarding?


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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