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TripAdvisor fined $600,000 by Italian antitrust agency

MILAN — Italy’s antitrust authority has fined travel planning website TripAdvisor $600,000 following complaints of improper business practices lodged by a national hoteliers’ association and a consumer protection agency.

The antitrust authority said Monday that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as ‘‘authentic and genuine.’’

It’s given TripAdvisor 90 days to present a remedy.

The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers welcomed the decision, citing the numerous examples of ‘‘defamatory’’ reviews that have appeared on the site.

A spokesman for TripAdvisor said the Newton company believes the the ruling is unreasonable, strongly disagrees with its findings and will file an appeal.

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“We fight fraud aggressively and are very confident in the systems and processes we have in place,” said Kevin Carter of TripAdvisor.

Carter said the company has an “extremely effective” fraud detection system that includes a team of employees and automated tools to protect “consumers from the small minority of people who try to cheat our system.”

He said that 98 percent of about 5,000 Italians who participated in a recent TripAdvisor survey said the site’s reviews were accurate and reflected their actual experience.

A UK regulator has previously said that TripAdvisor must stop claiming that all the reviews on its British site were written by independent travelers, and therefore reliable.


Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TarynLuna. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.