10 Extraordinary Years – 2012 – A landmark ruling against TripAdvisor is reported around the world after KwikChex files complaint
In February 2012 after challenging TripAdvisor over fake reviews for more than a year, a complaint submitted by KwikChex to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was upheld.
In the ruling, phrases such as “reviews you can trust” and “reviews from real travelers” were judged to be misleading and
TripAdvisor were instructed not to use such phrases again in their marketing. The announcement followed an in-depth investigation by KwikChex prior to submission of the compliant in 2011. KwikChex provided the ASA with unequivocal proof of large scale review fraud on the TripAdvisor site and demonstrated how easy it was to place fake reviews on TripAdvisor. “We told TripAdvisor not to claim or imply that all the reviews that appeared on the website were from real travelers, or were honest, real or trusted,” the ASA wrote in its decision.
Global news coverage
The story circulated around the world and in print, on television and radio news, in print and online. Chris Emmins, director and co-founder of KwikChex appeared on several TV programmes and radio broadcasts to explain how lack of verification of online reviews was making it easy to both deceive consumers and maliciously and falsely damage the reputation of businesses. The BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-16823012 were just one of hundreds to report on the case as it was picked up and strongly featured by major news outlets and reported in dozens of different languages. In the US, TripAdvisor’s home country, the likes of CNN reported on it – https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/tripadvisor-advertising-uk/index.html
Leading the way in the battle against fake reviews
The ruling against TripAdvisor successfully highlighted the abuses of fake online reviews and put consumers more on their guard. In the years since, KwikChex has assisted in removing thousands of online reviews and has been called on time and time again by businesses suffering online defamation, by consumers checking truthfulness and by government authorities investigating the problems. And just yesterday, the UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced another investigation – into several major websites to see whether they are doing enough to protect shoppers from fake and misleading reviews. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-investigates-misleading-online-reviews. KwikChex will again be providing the results of our own recent investigations to the CMA. The battle as ever is to do all possible to protect freedom of speech whilst guarding against freedom of deceit.