More than a dozen tourists are claiming that the travel review site TripAdvisor deleted their warnings of rapes and assaults at Mexican resorts, according to reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In at least one case, TripAdvisor claimed a post was deleted because it violated its "family-friendly" guidelines.
In one forum post, a woman asked TripAdvisor users about safety in Mexico's Riviera Maya. A total of 55 people replied, the Journal Sentinel reports. 24 replies were positive and four comments were unrelated to the question.
"What about the other 27 posts? Did anyone express worry, describe problems or share experiences that might serve as warnings?” the Journal Sentinel asked. "The public had no way to know. The posts had all been removed from the forum. […] In their place was a message from TripAdvisor that cited various reasons for the deletions: They were 'determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community,' or removed by staff because they were 'off-topic' or contained language or subject matter that was not 'family friendly.' "
TripAdvisor would not show those deleted posts to the Journal-Sentinel. In another instance, a woman told the publication that she repeatedly tried to post about being raped at a hotel on TripAdvisor to warn other travelers. Each time, her posts were deleted, she said. After the publication asked TripAdvisor about that deleted post, the travel site reposted it seven years later, according to NPR. It is now visible on the 2,608th page of the forum, the Journal Sentinel reports.
In a statement, TripAdvisor wrote, "We apologize to the sexual assault victim reported on in the article, who had her forum post removed seven years ago on TripAdvisor. At the time, we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family-friendly language. More than seven years ago that meant all language needed to be G-rated. A few years ago, we changed that policy to allow more descriptive reviews on the site about first-hand accounts of serious incidents like rape or assault. We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared. [...] Over the last several years, this policy change has yielded many first-hand accounts of serious incidents being published on the platform. A simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault and rape.[ …] We will continue to work to improve and evolve our moderation and publishing guidelines as we work to provide the most accurate information in the travel industry available online."