While businesses grapple with the issue of fake reviews online, TripAdvisor has revealed the proportion of its 66 million reviews that were fake. And it’s not as many as you may think.
According to the global travel, tourism and hospitality platform, 2.1 per cent of the 66 million reviews made on its site in 2018 were fake. And most of them never actually made it to the site, with many being stopped during the moderation processes.
The findings on fake reviews were released in TripAdvisor’s Review Transparency Report, which it said provides businesses and individual users of the platform with “never-before-shared details about its moderation processes”.
TripAdvisor said that last year, it stopped publication of more than 1 million fake reviews.
“Less than 0.6 per cent of all reviews submitted (374,220 in total) made it onto TripAdvisor before being removed for fraud,” the report said.
Businesses being penalised
TripAdvisor also revealed that it is not just individual users falling afoul of its user guidelines.
A total of 34,643 businesses were given a ranking penalty — a less prominent position on the platform’s search rankings — after they were deemed to have been posting fake reviews.
One likely recipient of such a penalty is Meriton, after the Federal Court ruled in 2017 that it had deliberately tried to influence ratings of its properties on the platform to reduce the number of negative reviews being submitted by guests, in action brought about by the ACCC.
The average rating given by users of all businesses and locations was 4.22 (out of a maximum of 5).
Call for Facebook, Google to lift their game
“We’ve continued to make advancements to our... fraud detection efforts in recent years, but it’s a daily battle and we are far from complacent,” said Becky Foley, the platform’s senior director of trust and safety.
Ms Foley also called on Google and Facebook to step up their own reviews process to weed out falsehoods and even fraudsters.
“While we are winning the fight against fake reviews on TripAdvisor, we can only protect our corner of the internet. As long as other review platforms aren’t taking aggressive action, then fraudsters will continue to exploit and extort small businesses for cash,” she said.
“It is time other platforms like Google and Facebook stepped up to the plate to join us in tackling this problem head-on.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.