Combating Misinformation the Right Way and Avoiding PR Crises

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Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

Last year, nearly 1 million reviews that had been submitted on the popular travel platform Tripadvisor ended up getting removed as they were determined to be false. About 3.6% of the total number of submitted reviews were removed from Tripadvisor, according to the company’s second transparency report. The company also stated that it managed to catch nearly 70% of the fake reviews before they were made public on the platform, thanks to its moderation algorithm that goes through reviews before they’re posted. 

Combating Misinformation the Right Way and Avoiding PR Crises - Ronn TorossianBack in 2019, the company dismissed an analysis from “Which?”, a consumer group, that claimed about 250,000– or one in seven reviews on the website– were fake. The latest transparency report from Tripadvisor also shared details with the public regarding paid reviews. Paid reviews are a strategy that has slowly increased in popularity due to businesses looking to improve their rankings across a variety of platforms by generating positive reviews. 

According to Tripadvisor’s report, there were paid reviews that were removed in 131 countries in the last year,  as well as an increase in these types of reviews stemming from India – although not necessarily relating to businesses in the country itself. Because of that, India made it to the top of the list for the largest number of paid reviews in the last year, while the position was previously held by Russia, which dropped out of the top 10 list. Additionally, the investigation found over 50 new paid review websites, and also blocked submissions from nearly 400 paid review websites in the last year. 

Not only that, but according to the report, despite the decrease in travel in the last year due to the pandemic, the trend of sharing paid or false reviews on the platform continued as regular. Furthermore, because of the reduction in overall submitted reviews, the pandemic posed other types of challenges for the platform. Those challenges led the fraud investigation team to manually assess over 250,000 other reviews, and nearly 50,000 of them were manually removed for violating the company’s posting guidelines. The reviews included insensitive comments encouraging people to ignore government guidelines and restrictions, and even spreading misinformation. 

Tripadvisor has been sharing its transparency report with the public since 2019, in an attempt to earn more trust from travelers and to show that the company takes community standards \seriously. The head of Trust and Safety at Tripadvisor, Becky Foley, stated that the company uses the best tech and human moderation practices to combat misinformation on the platform. 

Given the rampant spread of misinformation all over the internet these days, companies can learn from the example of Tripadvisor, and invest in creating their own moderation teams or tools to combat similar instances. That way, they can get ahead of the spread of misinformation, and avoid walking into a PR crisis.


RONN TOROSSIAN - HOW MANY FOLLOWERS DO YOU NEED ON INSTAGRAM TO GET PAID?About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.