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New TripAdvisor feature aims to flag sexual assault concerns
10 November 2017, 12:34 | Vera Richards
TripAdvisor now has a digital badge to mark hotels where sexual assault was reported
TripAdvisor, a popular travel and restaurant review company, is essentially adding a special badge of dishonor next to hotels and resorts where reports of sexual assaults have been made.
TripAdvisor, which more than 400 million people use annually, said it originally wouldn't publish travelers' warnings because they were "hearsay". The badge does not detail exactly what has happened at the accommodation, but encourages users to research before making a booking.
The company said that when Love's post was removed seven years ago "all language needed to be G-rated", but that the policy has since been changed "to allow more descriptive reviews on the site about firsthand accounts of serious incidents like rape or assault".
Steve Kaufer, the CEO of TripAdvisor, said the company, "apologized to the victim [Love] for her experience".
"I was contacted by the parents of a 19-year-old girl from New Jersey who was also raped by a security guard at the same property while on vacation with her family".
"We have made a decision to introduce a new badge notification that will be displayed on a business's listing page when an issue relating to that business is reported on by credible media sources", Tara Lieberman, a TripAdvisor spokeswoman, tells Vogue.
A red banner will now span the top of TripAdvisor listings, cautioning tourists that the accommodation has had a case reported and suggesting travellers do further research. He also clarified that the "badges are meant to be informative, not punitive".
Three hotels in Mexico were badged on Wednesday, after an expose by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed shocking allegations towards staff at the resorts.
Three resorts in the Playa del Carmen region of Mexico were those flagged by TripAdvisor, including the hotel ranked at No. 2 by users, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya; the hotel ranked at No. 4, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya; and the fifth-ranked hotel, the Iberostar Paraiso Lindo.
TripAdvisor is flagging the pages of hotels where sexual assaults are reported. TripAdvisor replaced the comments with a generic explanation that the posts were "inappropriate" and "off-topic".
A TripAdvisor spokesman added: "These badges will remain on TripAdvisor for up to three months; however, if the issues persist we may extend the duration of the badge". Reviews in the past have been rejected on grounds of hearsay, as they would sometimes cite the opinion of someone else or include a medical diagnosis.
"The badge has nothing to do with how we will post reviews on the site", the spokeswoman said. "Our new email communications will clearly articulate the phrase or sentences that are in violation of our policy, inviting the reviewer to make edits and resubmit their review", Carter said. Another badge is used to note when TripAdvisor freezes reviews during major news events where posts may not reflect the opinions of actual guests.
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The company maintains that it does not take down reviews or forum posts because they mention sexual assault or rape.
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