More than one-third of online hotel reviews are phony, new research from fraud detection company Fakespot suggests. The troubling study of fake hotel reviews also shows that you’re more likely to be fooled in some American cities than others.
Fakespot, which analyzes and detects suspicious online reviews, says 36% of the ratings on TripAdvisor are “fake and unreliable.”
“Just like Google search results, if you are not on the first page you are probably never going to get noticed,” says Saoud Khalifah, CEO of Fakespot. “To get to the first page these businesses will use fake reviews to increase their search ranking.”
TripAdvisor dismissed the findings as “inaccurate and misleading.”
Is TripAdvisor doing enough to stop fake hotel reviews?
Khalifah insists his methodology is sound. He says Fakespot analyzed “several million” reviews using its proprietary data extraction and analysis engines.
He also says TripAdvisor knows it has a fake review problem, which is why it has poured considerable resources into spotting bogus reviews. He notes that while TripAdvisor has made several positive changes to prevent fake hotel reviews, it hasn’t been enough.
“They have actively pursued businesses that use fake reviews,” he says. “But at the same time, they have prevented users from posting authentic negative reviews.”
Here are the cities with the most fake hotel reviews
Now, for the first time, Fakespot has released a list of cities with the most fake hotel reviews. It offers a guide for summer travelers who are trying to avoid falling prey to a fraudulent review. The fraud warning is also a heat map for consumer advocates like me, who are always on the lookout for trouble.