A user must trigger this feature, though. Additionally, if a safety claim has been made against an organization, a notification will automatically appear at the top of a review, alerting users to the issue.
“TripAdvisor has its own posting guidelines to ensure the integrity of our content,” Desiree Fish, a spokeswoman for the company, said. “These guidelines lead to credibility and trust. Not only can we check for fraud, but Travelers want to hear from other travelers about their experiences. It allows them to make an informed decision.”
K is battling the requirement that reviews be written in first person. She said that the man who attacked her runs a one-man, tour-guide business, and he has a 4.5 star rating on the site. “I tried to post a review which was a warning,” she said. “I said ‘this tour guide raped a German tourist,’ but it wasn’t written in first person, so it was rejected.”
Frustrated, K asked friends to leave reviews sharing her experience, but those also did not meet TripAdvisor’s rules.
In emails seen by The Times, a TripAdvisor employee advised K to create an account under a different username where she could write a first-person review without revealing her identity — an option that TripAdvisor has offered other survivors of sexual violence, according to the emails. This, K said, was an unreasonable expectation.
“I’m not leaving a first person, in-detailed, account of my rape,” K said. “I don’t want to be contacted and threatened or trolled, even on a burner account. Why can’t TripAdvisor have someone who can make sure my experience is seen without re-traumatizing survivors?”
After The Guardian published a story about K’s experience, the advocacy group change.org helped start a petition demanding TripAdvisor “stop covering up sexual assaults.” That petition, which currently has more than 522,000 signatures, calls the company out for not removing, penalizing or more visibly marking businesses where people have said they have been attacked.