TripAdvisor under fire for 'fake' reviews on China site
TripAdvisor has removed at least 10,000 reviews from its Chinese website daodao following complaints that they were fake.
Online reputation management company KwikChex is now calling for the site to be suspended until a "very thorough audit" can take place and new systems installed to better detect fraud.
It claimed that the reviews of 12 of daodao's top 500 reviewers have been deleted by the website following a study by KwikChex into online review sites which revealed "extremely suspicious activity" on daodao.
TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay admitted "a number" of reviews by daodao members have been removed from the site pending further investigation.
However, KwikChex co-founder Chris Emmins said: "Whilst there is little doubt that TripAdvisor, under pressure from criticism has invested more in its efforts, we found evidence that appears to suggest that there are very significant flaws still.
"There are 'hotspots' of extremely suspicious activity - many in Asia, where KwikChexrecently met with many concerned owners."
For example, it found one reviewer on daodao.com had posted 2,633 reviews since November 2010 and one, who had posted 1,361 reviews since October 2010 claimed to have stayed in 51 hotels in Paris in March 2013 while also visiting hotels in eight other countries in the same month.
"Several of these 'super-reviewers' appear to almost follow each other around the world - posting reviews on the same businesses," it said.
The reviews on daodao also appear on TripAdvisor.com
Although some suspicious reviews have been deleted following the KwikChex report, it said it was still detecting patterns that suggest the problems on daodao are continuing. It said one of those reviewers whose posts have been removed has posted again.
"The scale of the problems do seem so huge that it may be best to suspend the site completely until a very thorough audit can take place - and new systems put in place to better detect fraud," said Emmins.
"This has been corrupting content on all TripAdvisor websites and is a threat to the integrity of not just the TripAdvisor brand, but also to the brands of major hotel chains that were reviewed."
TripAdvisor's spokesman insisted the company was "fighting fraud aggressively" and had sophisticated systems to detect fraudsters and penalties in place to deter them.
"These detection techniques and deterrents mean the amount of fraud attempted is extremely small.," said Kay. "The fact is, the scale of TripAdvisor means there is honesty in numbers - with 150 million reviews and opinions and 90 contributions a minute the community in itself is a self-regulating force.
"It is also worth noting that the China business operates on a separate platform from TripAdvisor to accommodate the significant market and regulatory differences in China. Our fraud detection logic and processes are also configured to the unique characteristics in that market.
"China is a highly dynamic emerging market and continuing to maintain the high quality of our reviews by identifying new fraud patterns is an ongoing effort that we take very seriously."
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
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