TripAdvisor has recently started to place warnings on the review pages of both hotels and businesses where reports of both rape and other safety incidents have been made. These warnings come in the form of warning symbols, or “badges” and are being done after the popular website came under fire for removing reported claims of sexual assault from their forums.
Thus far, the warnings have been placed on the following resorts, all of which are located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico:
- Iberostar Paraiso Maya
- Iberostar Paraiso Linda
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya
TripAdvisor has placed a red banner box on each of these pages with the following warning:
“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.”
According to a spokesperson for TripAdvisor, these warnings do not mention any specific incidents; however, they are designed to issue an alert to travelers regarding potential safety and health issues, which include sexual assault, rape, theft, and discrimination. Furthermore, the warnings will remain on the review pages for a minimum of three months, after which period the decision of whether or not to remove the warning will be made by an official TripAdvisor committee.
The warnings were placed on the three locations following recent media reports of multiple incidents having taken place in Mexico, in which vacationers were reported to have blacked out following drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol, only to find that they were robbed, assaulted, etc.
The new warnings come after an investigation documented repeated instances in which TripAdvisor appeared to have removed multiple posts by members detailing incidents warning of alleged assault and rape at various resorts in Mexico. One traveler stated that she posted about her having been raped at a resort in the country, only to be told by TripAdvisor that the post “went against the company’s family-friendly tenets.” Another traveler posted about a similar incident at another resort, in which she was raped by a uniformed guard at the hotel she was staying at, only to have her post deleted as well. While a spokesperson for TripAdvisor posted a statement on LinkedIn claiming that they had issued an apology to the second traveler, the woman claims to have not received an apology from the company at that time, though she did eventually receive a phone call from TripAdvisor.
On top of the warnings, TripAdvisor will also offer explanations regarding why they choose to accept and reject some forum posts and reviews from their members. For instance, previous reviews were rejected on the grounds of being the mere opinion of someone else, which caused confusion as some users were not aware that their reviews were actually supposed to be accounts of their own experience at a specific location. TripAdvisor will now explain phrasing and sentences that violate the guidelines of the website itself. If a violation is detected, users will be asked to edit and resubmit their reviews.