TripAdvisor or FakeAdvisor – your choice

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FAKE REVIEWS?: There are growing concerns about the authenticity of some reviews. Credit: Shutterstock

“HOTELS and restaurants are trying to cheat their way to the top of TripAdvisor amid claims that as many as a third of the reviews are fake,” according to a recent undercover investigation.

Independent analysis of tens of thousands of reviews on TripAdvisor reportedly demonstrates that supposedly top-rated B&Bs at tourist hotspots, for instance, have almost twice as many “fake” reviews as lower-ranked accommodation. Two-thirds of reviews posted about top B&Bs in some hotspots are thought to be fishy.

Add to this a recent landmark legal ruling in Italy that saw one fraudulent online reviewer sentenced to jail after the court ruled that writing fake, paid-for reviews under a false identity was “criminal conduct” in the first convicted case of “review fraud”.

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TripAdvisor is a site that encapsulates the internet conundrum. Its benefits to the paying public are obvious but its misuse can threaten or even wipe out good, honest, small businesses.

My take is that Trip Advisor is a useful tool. But, obviously, it’s only as good as the reviewers. As a general principle I tend to ignore any review by those who have only posted one review. There’s a surprising number of these, and they’re invariably completely glowing or completely doom and gloom – and probably either fake or by someone who doesn’t get out enough. (Conversely, if the reviewer has 10+ reviews across a range of star ratings, I’m inclined to listen to what they say.)

I’ve come across daft mistakes such as confusion over similar–sounding hotel names or same name, different locations. Sometimes a fake review stands out because the standard of English is so poor that the author obviously isn’t Janet or John from Bognor! But it would help if TripAdvisor made greater efforts to weed out fakes and ensure that the reviewer is genuinely “genuine”.

So we have fake news and fake reviews – what’s next, fake columnists?

And who is Nora Johnson, you ask? Easy! A North Korean columnist internet bot who gives this column an unbiased article five stars! Haha!!

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