After apologizing for deleting a woman's post about being raped at a resort in Mexico, TripAdvisor has changed its policies and will now inform its 455 million users with an advisory on listings for hotels that are known locations of sexual assault.
"These badges will remain on TripAdvisor for up to three months," company spokesperson Kevin Carter told The New York Times. "However, if the issues persist we may extend the duration of the badge. These badges are intended to be informative, not punitive."
The company will not remove listings based on the number of complaints. "We want consumers to see good and bad reviews of businesses," said Carter.
Additionally, a TripAdvisor spokesperson tells Refinery29 that the company has "evolved" its "family-friendly" moderation policy "to allow more descriptive reviews related to first-hand accounts of rape, assault, and other serious incidents. What has not changed is that we do not permit profanity, hate speech, or extremely graphic details of a sexual nature."
TripAdvisor has flagged three resorts in the Playa del Carmen region of Mexico with the badge, including ones that rank highly on the site among hotels in the region: the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, the Iberostar Paraiso Maya, and the Iberostar Paraiso Lindo.
Last week, TripAdvisor issued a public apology to Kristie Love, a woman from Dallas, after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the site repeatedly deleted a post in which she described being raped by a security guard at the Paraiso Maya resort. CEO Steve Kaufer said in a statement that at the time, the post violated its "family-friendly" language policy. TripAdvisor will now be more clear about why it rejects certain reviews, a spokesperson said. Dozens of other women told MJS that TripAdvisor had blocked their posts as well, the paper reported.
On November 7, Love wrote a letter to Kaufer, in which she described another woman's alleged experience.
"I was contacted by the parents of a 19-year-old girl from New Jersey who was also raped by a security guard at the same property while on vacation with her family," Love wrote. "Could you imagine if this had been YOUR daughter that was not protected? And THAT is what I can never forget. Even more than the crime committed against myself, this innocent college sophomore traveling with her family had her life FOREVER changed... I am quite confident this would have never occurred had my story NOT been removed."
Kaufer then apologized directly to Love and explained the new policies.
USA Today reported that Senator Tammy Baldwin, the Democrat from Wisconsin, urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate TripAdvisor. In a November 2 letter to the FTC, she wrote that she's concerned the company "may be prioritizing profits over providing an open, honest forum for traveler reviews."
"In particular, limiting or removing reviews that detail unsafe conditions could put future travelers, who look to TripAdvisor for accurate information, at risk," she wrote.