Business & Tech
    Next Score View the next score

    Federal regulators may take action against TripAdvisor

    TripAdvisor headquarters in Needham.
    MARY SCHWALM FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/FILE
    TripAdvisor headquarters in Needham.

    The Federal Trade Commission is considering whether to take action against TripAdvisor after some consumers accused the Needham-based travel company of removing hotel reviews that included reports of rapes and assaults.

    Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the company had deleted dozens of postings that reported sexual assaults, rapes, and other impropriety at hotels.

    The day after the report was published, US Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, wrote to the Federal Trade Commission — which is charged with preventing unfair or deceptive business practices — urging officials there to investigate TripAdvisor. In her letter, Baldwin said it was “imperative” that such websites “do not censor reviews that detail unsafe conditions that could put future travelers. . . at risk.”

    Advertisement

    In a response sent to Baldwin on Friday, the commission said it has a “strong interest in protecting consumer confidence in the online marketplace.”

    Get Talking Points in your inbox:
    An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    “I assure you that the commission will consider the information you have provided carefully to determine whether enforcement or other action, such as additional business guidance, is appropriate,” wrote the commission’s acting chairwoman, Maureen Ohlhausen, in the letter to Baldwin.

    TripAdvisor said the company is not aware of an FTC inquiry, adding that the commission has not contacted the company at all.

    “TripAdvisor is committed to ensuring our users have complete and accurate information to plan their travel. This is especially true in matters related to health and safety,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe on Wednesday.

    The company also said the website has “thousands of mentions within reviews” that contain “descriptions of assault, being injured or other safety issues.”

    Advertisement

    After the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, TripAdvisor issued a public apology to Kristie Love, 35, of Dallas, who told reporters that TripAdvisor had repeatedly deleted her 2010 post about the Iberostar Paraiso Maya resort in Mexico, where she said she had been raped by a security guard.

    The company later said it would begin placing symbols next to hotels and resorts that have been identified as locations of sexual assault for up to three months.

    However, some criticized the company’s new policy, saying it doesn’t go far enough. Love told The New York Times last week that she remained frustrated, feeling that the review site’s decision to post its warning for only three months was “a slap in the face.”

    ***

    Read the correspondence between Senator Tammy Baldwin and the Federal Trade Commission: