Tripadvisor Received 1 Million Fake Reviews Last Year — Here's How to Spot Real Ones

Thousands of reviews also violated new COVID-related guidelines.

Navigating the world of online user reviews can be tricky at times. Some people are overly critical and complain about silly things. Others might be easier to please than you. And in the case of Tripadvisor, at least 1 million of the reviews submitted last year were actually fake, according to reps for the platform. Luckily, most were caught before actually appearing on the internet.

In Tripadvisor's 2021 Review Transparency Report, the company revealed that of the 26 million-plus reviews submitted to the website, at least 1 million reviews were fake, accounting for only 3.6% of all reviews. Of the fraudulent reviews submitted, about 67.1% were detected and removed before even appearing on TripAdvisor.

The report also revealed that in 2020, Tripadvisor banned 34,605 properties for fraudulent activity, as well as 20,299 for not following community standards. The company's investigations also detected 65 new paid review sites and blocked paid review submissions from a total of 372 different paid review sites.

Violations of new COVID-19 posting guidelines also prompted Tripadvisor to remove 46,145 reviews.

"The report highlights the important steps Tripadvisor is taking to protect travellers, diners and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the introduction of new community standards designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation and protect businesses that have been keeping customers safe," the report said.

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All in all, Tripadvisor removed or rejected more than 2 million review submissions — about 8.6% of the total — for being fraudulent or violating community guidelines. This was done either manually or by the company's "advanced review analysis system," which includes a two-step process before needing an actual human to review.

"Two years ago, we were the first major review platform to issue a transparency report that detailed the 'what, why and how' behind our work to protect travellers from fake reviews," said Becky Foley, head of Trust and Safety at Tripadvisor. "We said then that our industry must work together to fight fake reviews. Other review platforms have since followed our lead, sharing more information on their own efforts to moderate reviews, but there is still more that can be achieved through collaboration."

Since not all fraudulent reviews can be detected buy Tripadvisor's efforts, the annual Review Transparency Report also included tips for users to help them spot a fake. According to an infographic included with the report, reviews that are "recent," "first-hand," "relevant," "respectful and unbiased" are more likely to be genuine.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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