Popular website TripAdvisor is coming under scrutiny after admitting it deleted posts from travelers warnings of robbery and even rape at some resorts in Mexico.
At least one woman says the website erased her comment that she was raped at a resort there. She said she had her post removed several times.
And she wasn’t alone.
An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found at least three other people reported being sexually assaulted or raped at the same resort and they too had their their TripAdvisor posts deleted.
TripAdvisor, which uses a combination of computer algorithms and human moderators issued a statement, which reads in part:
“We apologize to the sexual assault victim reported on in the (USA Today) article, who had her forum post removed seven years ago on TripAdvisor. At the time, we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family-friendly language. More than seven years ago that meant all language needed to be G-rated. 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. We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared.
Over the last several years, this policy change has yielded many first-hand accounts of serious incidents being published on the platform. A simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault and rape. We believe any first-hand experience should be posted to our site as a means to communicate to other consumers looking for information on where they should travel.
When we were made aware that this post had been removed under our previous guidelines, we republished it in line with our revised policy.
We are horrified that this victim experienced this assault on her vacation in Mexico, and other travelers should be aware of this incident.”
TripAdvisor’s business model in part relies on users booking through its website. TripAdvisor denied any link between how its content guidelines are applied and its commercial relationships.
Maureen Webster’s son died at a Mexican resort and says when she went to the website to warn others, her post was deleted, too.
“I think it is borderline criminal what they are doing,” she told NBC Nightly News.
TripAdvisor said Webster’s post was deleted in part because she was not on the trip and it only allows first hand accounts.
TripAdvisor said it is making changes: the site is creating a “badge” notification that will alert users to health, safety and discrimination issues.
This designation will be based on media reports and other credible sources.