TripAdvisor Fined $610,000 for Failing to Prevent Astroturfing


The Italian Competition Authority fined TripAdvisor based on a complaint by an “association of Italian hoteliers and by local consumer protection groups, which claimed that TripAdvisor did not provide accurate reviews for consumers to make informed decisions.” The New York Times reported that TripAdvisor disagreed:

We think the ruling is unreasonable,…We fight fraud aggressively and are very confident in the systems and processes we have in place.

Of course not all bad reviews are astroturfing since people can post bad reviews if they do not like a hotel. However to make astroturfing more complicated, now some hotels have started fining people who post bad reviews after their stays. The BBC reported that the UK Broadway Hotel “fined” a couple £100 who described the hotel as a “rotten, stinking hovel” on TripAdvisor after a one night stay, but the hotel later said it “will refund the money.” The UK hotel created the “policy of charging people who wrote bad reviews to prevent “customers from defaming” the business.”

Astrotrurfing regulation is still a mess if a government can penalize TripAdvisor for allowing unfavorable reviews and hotel guests may be fined for posting unfavorable reviews

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