‘Countless’ Women Accuse TripAdvisor of Covering Up Sexual Assault Committed at Places Listed on the Platform

A change.org petition is calling on TripAdvisor to implement policies for handling reports of sexual assault. | GP Studio/Shutterstock

A woman alleging that she was raped by a tour guide who came highly rated on TripAdvisor has started a change.org petition calling on the global travel website to implement policies for handling reports of sexual assault. The petition has now been signed by more than 100,000 people.

The petition alleges the “company is not taking violence against women seriously.” She wrote that she chose the tour guide based on “stellar reviews” on TripAdvisor, but the company’s response to her initial report was to instruct her to post a detailed first-person account of her assault as a review.

Thrillist has reviewed the emails between K, a pseudonym the woman in question has chosen to help maintain her safety, and a TripAdvisor representative from the company’s Content team. In a series of messages exchanged over several weeks, the company repeatedly states that the best way K can warn other travelers about the tour guide in question is to leave a first-hand account describing the assault online in the form of a negative TripAdvisor review.

In the emails, K asked why she was encouraged to publish the details of a traumatic experience in a public forum, which potentially opens her up to identification and possible contact by others, including the man she accused of raping her. TripAdvisor suggested K create a second account under a generic username and post the review from there, noting that others in her situation have done so in the past. In response to her request for examples, TripAdvisor provided links to five such reviews, written between late 2017 and late 2018. An investigation by The Guardian identified an additional 40 TripAdvisor reviews detailing accounts of sexual assault by staff members of travel businesses that are highly rated on the site.

TripAdvisor, which, at 456 million monthly users, is the world’s largest travel website, maintained that taking down the tour company listing, as K had requested, would not help warn future travelers about the accused employee. The company also explained that it couldn’t allow friends to post negative reviews of the tour company on her behalf because such reviews would violate their publishing guidelines, which hold that all reviews must come from travelers relaying a first-hand experience. TripAdvisor did not, however, respond directly to K’s line of questioning about why the company lacks a system for processing and reviewing such reports, despite her asking repeatedly about why the process of getting in touch with a representative had been so arduous.

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SOURCE: Thrillist – Kastalia Medrano