TripAdvisor hides warnings of rape


More than 10 travelers from around the United States say reviews website TripAdvisor is deleting and muzzling their accounts of rape, blackouts and other injuries suffered at resorts in Mexico, according to an extensive investigation published Wednesday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

This report came out two days after U.S. officials called on the U.S. State Department and the Office of the Inspector General to investigate Mexican resorts that have allegedly been serving dangerous, tainted alcohol.

Tourists who have had terrible experiences say their posts of TripAdvisor are frequently removed and labeled as “hearsay.”

“To me it’s like censoring,” said Wendy Avery-Swanson of Phoenix. “It wasn’t hearsay. It actually happened to me.”  In her review, she wrote she blacked out after being served alcohol at a swim-up bar.  This review was scrubbed from the website.

Another review that was taken off the website was one by Kristie Love of Dallas. She posted that she had been raped by a security guard at the Iberostar Paraiso Resort near Playa Del Carmen.  She wrote that she had been followed by the guard who later overpowered her and raped her outside. She claims that the hotel staff refused to call police.  Her post was taken down for violating the “family friendly” guidelines.

“We apologize to the sexual assault victim,” said Brian Hoyt, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “Since 2010, when the forum post was removed, our policies and processes have evolved to better provide information like this to other travelers.  As a result, when recently brought to our attention, the victim’s initial forum post was republished by our staff.”

Hoyt also said the company is creating a “badge” notification to apply to businesses to “alert consumers of health & safety or discrimination issues at that business reported on within the media or other credible sources of information.”

Hopefully TripAdvisor is being truthful and will no longer censor these voices.

The media has done a very good job of covering this story.  An interview of a woman whose post was deleted had been featured on the NBC Nightly News last week.  The story has been showing up on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC’s websites as well.

This is an important story that many should be aware of, especially college students since many of them go to Mexico for spring break each year.  It is very good that many major news sources have been covering it and getting the word out there.  A lot of people will likely think twice about going to Mexico after reading about this.