After an investigation revealed that TripAdvisor deleted multiple posts by people alleging rape and sexual assault, the site added a new feature to identify hotels and resorts where these concerns have been reported.
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Popular travel and hotel recommendation site TripAdvisor added a new feature in an effort to identify hotels and resorts where cases of sexual assault and other health and safety concerns have been reported.
Launched yesterday, the feature displays symbols or badges next to locations "based on news reports as well as comments from the TripAdvisor community," TripAdvisor spokesperson Kevin Carter told the New York Times. "The warnings are designed to identify health, safety and discrimination issues in all of the website’s travel categories." Company spokesperson Brian Hoyt told Broadly that as of Wednesday, only three hotels have been marked with these new badges: the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Hotel, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya Hotel, and the Iberostar Paraíso Lindo Hotel—all located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
The new feature comes after a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation revealed that TripAdvisor had deleted multiple posts made by people reporting rape and sexual at hotels and resorts.
Thirty-five-year-old Dallas resident Kristie Love claimed that TripAdvisor removed her 2010 post detailing her alleged sexual assault by a security guard at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After her initial post was removed, Love repeatedly attempted to re-publish it, but each time, her posts were "determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community" for violating the site’s "family friendly" language policy and deleted again, according to the Sentinel.
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In response, TripAdvisor released a statement clarifying that its policy had been changed since Love’s posts were removed seven years ago, writing, "A few years ago, we changed that policy to allow more descriptive reviews on the site about first-hand accounts of serious incidents like rape or assault."
Now, the TripAdvisor listing for the hotel where Love was allegedly assaulted displays a red warning banner that reads: "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."
This warning will stay on a resort listing for up to three months, but "if the issues persist, we may extend the duration of the badge," Carter told the Times before explaining that "decisions to add or remove a badge will be made by an employee committee."
When pressed for more information about this in-house committee, spokesperson Hoyt told Broadly the company has "developed a cross-functional cross-department team" that "not only reviews our content, which could spur a badge, but also press coverage."
"The first three businesses were badged yesterday, they certainly won’t be the last," Hoyt said. "We did an audit on TripAdvisor in the past year alone we saw thousands of reviews with keywords that mentioned language like theft, robbery, assault, sexual assault, rape and death … It’s a small percentage of the time but we thought the badge would be an opportunity to create a heightened sense of awareness for consumers to go out in the marketplace and do some simple internet searches that would readily make the information available."