Technology

Rape survivor’s petition calls TripAdvisor to action

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

A Change.org petition that garnered the support of nearly 700,000 people has called TripAdvisor to take additional steps to improve traveller safety.

This comes after the company introduced a traveller safety review filter to all of its listings, giving travellers critical safety information to cases of sexual assault and misconduct.

It all stemmed from TripAdvisor being embroiled in hotel rape allegations and criticism that the company was not doing enough to protect travellers and users of its database.

TripAdvisor’s president of core experiences, Lindsay Nelson, said at the time that the introduction of this safety review filter was just the start of the company’s commitment to elevating safety information.

"A notice now appears at the top of each review that contains safety information to make it easier for travellers to distinguish these from other reviews," TripAdvisor says.
“A notice now appears at the top of each review that contains safety information to make it easier for travellers to distinguish these from other reviews,” TripAdvisor says about its new Traveller Safety Review Filter.

But a Change.org petition called ‘Stop Covering up sexual assault’ started by sexual-assault survivor “K.K.”– a woman who remains anonymous – which gathered 694,300 supporters has prompted the company to take another step toward improving its traveller safety policies.

“On a recent international trip with friends, I decided to go on an outdoor excursion,” K.K. says.

“I never would have imagined that our tour guide, who came with stellar reviews on TripAdvisor, would ultimately rape me, and that TripAdvisor would do next to nothing to prevent him from doing it again.”

In the petition, K.K. goes on to say that TripAdvisor’s recommendation that she leave a review was “woefully inadequate to warn other travellers” and that it required her to relive the painful details of her assault and “out myself publicly where my assailant could likely find me.”

“I’m just one of countless women who’ve been ignored or mistreated by TripAdvisor after reporting a sexual assault at a business on their site. In the era of #MeToo, this company is not taking violence against women seriously,” K.K says.

This time last week, TripAdvisor responded to the petition by announcing that it had spoken to her and other survivors of sexual assault over the past few months.

“We greatly value the feedback we have received from the Change.org petitioners and are grateful for their interest in travel safety and input on how to make TripAdvisor an even better information platform for travellers [sic],” the company said.

“As the world’s largest information platform for travellers, we feel it is our responsibility to ensure our community has access to important safety information that empowers them to keep traveling.

“We embrace our responsibility and are deeply committed to making traveler safety a company priority for the long term.

“We continue to evolve and enhance our platform, having recently introduced a number of new safety features and policies, and will continue to introduce new enhancements in the future.”

Prompted by its discussions with survivors, the company has introduced further guidance for travellers to “courageously share their reviews about a safety incident”, by providing several tips for maintaining anonymity.

TripAdvisor also said that it had partnered with sexual assault advocacy groups to improve moderation, including No More, who is providing training to its content moderation and customer service leadership about how to better support survivors of sexual assault.

But the company has said that it knows this is not enough, and that these enhancements are “just the beginning”.

“We know more work still needs to be done to ensure travellers have the information they need to stay safe,” it said.

“TripAdvisor will continue to work with, and gather feedback from, our community and the tourism industry as we make future investments to ensure the safety of our users.”

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