The review giant seems reeling these days with legal and PR woes from all directions.
In the latest plot development, Hotelmarketing.com reports that a more serious complaint against TripAdvisor has been lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK organization charged with regulating advertising across all media.
The second probe, instigated by reputation management gadfly, Kwikchex is now asking that all third parties using TripAdvisor’s reviews to market their properties be prohibited from doing so.
While Kwikchex’s first complaint questioned the truthfulness and accuracy of the site’s reviews, this claim goes further and is potentially more damaging to the review site.
It says, in effect, if the review’s author can not be determined, and if the truthfulness of the review itself can not be ascertained, then third parties have no right to post such reviews as a means of promoting their properties or destinations because, in effect, such reviews are “fruit of the poisoned tree.”
In other words, a unverified review like an unverified product or medical claim is illegal.
Travolution says ASA has not confirmed the second complaint, but leaves no doubt the charge has been filed.
Kwikchex co-founder, Chris Emmins, cites a rule from the Committee of Advertising Practices stating that marketers must be able to show a review’s authenticity by proving it was made “by an identifiable and potentially contactable person.”
And there’s the rub.
The government wants to act before public confidence in published reviews is eroded completely.
One Twitter follower asked me if she could post favorable excerpts of a TripAdvisor review on her site.
While I’m not sure of the exact legal standing at this point, I would say she runs the risk of a negative PR backlash as more and more travelers question the veracity of any unsigned review, by an “uncontactable person’ that appears on any site.