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TripAdvisor removes review alleging racism

30 September 2010 by

Controversial online reviews website TripAdvisor has removed a review of an Oxfordshire hotel that falsely alleged racism, despite initially refusing to do so.

The move comes after the owners of Brook Barn Country House noticed a post recommending that "ethnics" stay away from the establishment.

The post appeared after someone who asked for a tour of the B&B was turned away because it was already full.

The review, posted by a user called Ferdi, read: "I hate to ever think it but are there people out there who still have a problem with the colour of someone's skin? I think I'll be staying away and would recommend to any other ‘ethnics' to do the same. I don't think they like our sort around there."

The hotel's horrified owner Sarah-Jane Ashman contacted both the police and TripAdvisor. But TripAdvisor sent an email to Ashman, which read: "We have looked at the review in question and determined that it does meet TripAdvisor's listing criteria. Therefore, it will not be removed."

Ashman also contacted online reputation management firm Kwikchex.com, which last month announced that it would be launching a series of "defamation actions" against TripAdvisor to try and get it to rectify reviews which owners of hospitality businesses considered to be either false or malicious. As part of the exercise, the business put forward a number of test cases to TripAdvisor, one of which was Ashman's.

After discussing the issue with TripAdvisor, it agreed with Ashman that the review should be removed, and did so on 27 September.

A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor said: "The review on Brook Barn, Oxfordshire, written by Ferdi, has been taken down as it was in violation of our policies, namely providing ratings of hotel features that hadn't been experienced (such as the guest rooms). Thanks to dialogue with the hotel manager following their initial raising of concern over the content of the review, we investigated further and as per our guidelines, upon discovering this inconsistency we removed the review."

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By Neil Gerrard

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