Hotels Against Tripadvisor, the dangers of anonymous reviews
The often unjustifiable damage being done to small businesses’ reputations and viability is increasing dramatically with the proliferation of review websites, where literally anyone can post subjective user generated content (UGC) anonymously, whether it be true false or just plain malicious. Those affected have little or no redress in that the web site owners are often outside UK jurisdiction, too large for the small man to challenge legally, and any existing avenues available to challenge them are beyond the the victims financial means. The abuse of these sites includes false negative reviews from business rivals, false positive reviews made to dishonestly misrepresent a company and gain market advantage. Indeed a new industry euphemistically called “Reputation Management” is growing on the back of the review web site phenomenon. Customers are also becoming wise to the fact that the promise of a negative review on sites like Tripadvisor can often produce a substantial discount. A viscious circle exists whereby dubious negative reviews are countered by a wave of equally dubious positive reviews. The only defence available to victims. Now Tripadvisor is charging hotels for ”Business Listings”, a clear challenge to its claims to be unbiased, while Yelp is fighting a class action law suit for extortion over allegations that its salesmen were offering the removal of negative reviews in exchange for advertising revenue. The web site operators have a dilemma. If they moderate the postings they can become legally liable for their content, so they claim not to, and licence reigns. They shelter behind principally the US First Ammendment, because the malicious and slanderous reviews lend credibility to the positive reviews whether faked or genuine, and add substantially to profits. Whatever the demands of Freedom of Speech or Public Interest, the issue of web review sites must be addressed by effective legislation to curb these abuses. Comment that is true and fair Does not diminish anyones rights or civil liberties, while unrestrained libel and slander does. Please support us in our efforts to change legislation by signing our petition. Do not hesitate if you are not a UK citizen. This issue affects the whole world.