About 1 million Tripadvisor reviews in 2020 were fake

Tourism platform penalises more than 34,600 properties for fraudulent activity

About a million out of 26 million reviews submitted on Tripadvisor globally have been found to be fraudulent, an investigation by the travel platform has revealed.

The tourism website's 2021 Review Transparency Report reveals that 3.6 per cent of its reviews last year were fake.

The latest data covers the volume of review contributions to the platform in 2020.

It rejected or removed 2 million reviews and discovered that 3.6 per cent of these were fake.

It is the platform's second transparency report, with the first released in 2019. Last year, 67.1 per cent of the fake reviews were caught before making it on to the site, it said.

“Knowing that you can rely on trusted guidance from travellers who have been there before has never been more important," said Becky Foley, head of trust and safety at Tripadvisor.

"As we continue the work to earn the trust travellers place in our business, we take the enforcement of our community standards incredibly seriously."

The platform uses the best technology and human moderation practices to fight fraud, Ms Foley said.

"This report demonstrates how effective our team, tactics and technology are at maintaining those standards," she said.

After the discovery, Tripadvisor penalised 34,605 properties for fraudulent activity and banned 20,299 members for failing to abide by its community standards in 2020.

Tripadvisor fraud investigators also identified 65 new paid review sites and blocked paid review submissions from a total of 372 different sites last year.

The company said it removed paid reviews from 131 countries last year.

“Two years ago, we were the first major review platform to issue a transparency report that detailed the ‘what, why and how’ behind our work to protect travellers from fake reviews," Ms Foley said.

"We said then that our industry must work together to fight fake reviews.

"Other review platforms have since followed our lead, sharing more information on their own efforts to moderate reviews, but there is still more that can be achieved through collaboration.

“We know from our investigations that if a fraudster is trying to infiltrate Tripadvisor with fake reviews, then they are targeting other platforms as well – and they will always follow the path of least resistance.

"We must stay committed, working together and in co-operation with law enforcement agencies to stop fake reviewers and protect travellers.”

Marie Audren, chief executive of Hotrec, the umbrella association of hotels and restaurants in Europe, is urging more companies to be transparent about reviews.

“Over the years, consumer reviews have become an important resource for millions in helping them to make informed decisions and never more so than now.” Ms Audren said.

“On the other hand, fake reviews harm businesses and mislead consumers.

"We urge all platforms to behave transparently and diligently. This is why we highly value Tripadvisor’s latest report that shows the work that goes on behind the scenes to protect travellers from fake reviews.”

Updated: October 27th 2021, 10:27 PM