The FTC is reportedly looking into TripAdvisor after the company censored reports of rape and sexual harassment at resorts around the world. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that in a letter sent last week to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the FTC said:
“When consumers are unable to post honest reviews about a business, it can harm other consumers whose abilities to make well-informed purchase decisions are hindered and harm businesses that work hard to earn positive reviews.”
TripAdvisor issued a statement to The Verge today saying:
"We are not aware of an inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission nor have they contacted us. TripAdvisor is a global user-generated content platform that enables travelers to post positive and negative reviews and forum content about their experiences. We receive 290 pieces of content a minute and need to ensure that information posted on our site adheres to our content guidelines to ensure the integrity of these posts. We stand by our publishing guidelines and how they are applied.
The FTC declined to comment on TripAdvisor.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first broke the TripAdvisor story a few weeks ago, and since then, the vacation-planning company introduced a badge system to flag hotels that had negative reviews published about them, particularly those that involved assault, harassment, or discrimination. Those badges only last for three months at a time. The company also clarified that its "family friendly" language requirement no longer exists and that all previously deleted posts were reinstated.
Still, the Wisconsin-based newspaper says dozens of additional people have come forward since the initial report, claiming that their forum posts were also censored.
Update 11/21 4:08 PM ET: Updated to include TripAdvisor's statement.
Correction 11/22 12:47 PM ET: Updated to change the headline. We previously said the FTC was investigating the company, but a formal investigation has not been announced. The agency has also not issued any official statement on whether or not it's looking into the trip-planning company.