TripAdvisor is pulling back the curtain on its process for
catching fake reviews.
The site's inaugural "TripAdvisor Review Transparency
Report" provides insight into the moderation processes and key data. In
2018, TripAdvisor said users posted 66 million reviews, and its fraud-detection
technology rejected 2.1% of those, or about 1.4 million reviews -- with about
three-quarters of those blocked before they posted.
The company said fraudulent reviews are generally one of
three types: biased positive reviews, biased negative reviews or paid reviews.
TripAdvisor's content moderation team rejected or removed an
additional 1.7 million reviews for guideline violations such as an incorrect
In total, TripAdvisor's combination of technology and human
assessment rejected 4.7% of reviews in 2018 (3.1 million) either before or
after they were posted.
TripAdvisor's report comes out less than two weeks after the
latest criticism of its reviews, this time from Which? Travel in the United
Kingdom. That company said it analyzed 250,000 reviews for the 10
highest-ranked hotels in 10 popular tourist destinations and found that 15 of
the 100 looked "blatantly suspicious."
In the report's foreword, TripAdvisor president and CEO
Stephen Kaufer wrote, "No one has a greater incentive than TripAdvisor to
ensure the reliability of the content on our platform. It is the core of our
business because if people don't ﬁnd our content reliable and helpful, they won't
keep coming back to our site."
Kaufer went on to say third-party criticism is often based
on "inaccurate figures," so the report is intended "to provide
deﬁnitive insights into the details and data behind our extensive content
moderation efforts. We do this in the spirit of transparency. We know we're not
perfect. But we're constantly working to stay one step ahead of the people who
try to abuse our platform -- and we believe that no other review platform does
more to protect the integrity of their content than TripAdvisor."
TripAdvisor said its users or businesses flagged less than
1% of reviews for possibly violating the platform's guidelines, and its content
moderation team reviewed most of those within six hours of receiving that
The company also enacted a "ranking penalty" on
more than 34,000 businesses caught attempting to post fake reviews and, since
2015, it has stopped the activity of more than 75 websites it says were
attempting to "sell" reviews.
"We've continued to make advancements to our
industry-leading fraud detection efforts in recent years, but it's a daily
battle and we are far from complacent," says Becky Foley, senior director
of trust and safety at TripAdvisor.
"While we are winning the fight against fake reviews on
TripAdvisor, we can only protect our corner of the internet. As long as other
review platforms aren't taking aggressive action, then fraudsters will continue
to exploit and extort small businesses for cash. It is time other platforms
like Google and Facebook stepped up to the plate to join us in tackling this
problem head on."
In the report, TripAdvisor also outlined steps it is taking
to protect the integrity of reviews, including investing in training for human
moderation teams, improving its fraud-detection technology, partnering with law
enforcement authorities to tackle fake reviews and enhancing the transparency
of its review moderation process.