The Big Kahuna of vacation review websites, TripAdvisor, is at the center of a potentially significant libel lawsuit. Hotel owners are suing the website over practices they deem unfair and ultimately defamatory.
Good for Us, Bad for Them: How Travel Review Websites Lead To Internet Defamation Lawsuits
While travel review sites are great for vacationers, they’re a double-edged sword for hotels, inns, and resorts. After all, it only takes one disgruntled customer to malign the reputation of an otherwise well-respected tourism business. To combat negative reviews, which can kill a company’s bottom line, travel vendors are teaming up against Internet travel sites — as is evident in this case.
Kwikchex is leading the TripAdvisor Defamation Legal Charge
Niche valedictorian, TripAdvisor.com, is the defendant. UK-based company, KwikChex, is leading the charge of nearly 800 travel industry vendors, in the US and UK, who plan to file a class action against the well-trafficked travel review website. The suit will focus on three main points:
- Claimants will allege that the site is responsible for misrepresenting hotels, inns, and other businesses via several of the site’s “lists” and other content generated by the site.
- The travel vendors will use the fact that “trusted community member reviews” are deployed as pop-ups on the site, to argue that the site co-signs negative reviews of businesses — a questionable form of endorsement in this context.
- The plaintiffs also want the travel website to reveal the identities of posters who make defamatory comments about businesses.
When pressed about the possibly ground-breaking TripAdvisor defamation case, spokespeople for the company routinely brush off queries, lamenting, “We do not comment on either threatened or pending litigation.”
Why This Consumer Review Libel Lawsuit Matters
As social media continues to grow like unrestrained ivy, expect consumer review libel lawsuits to flood US courts. Why? As always, when culture is significantly altered due to either changing societal norms or technological advances, the law also changes to keep pace. For technophiles and legal eagles, the TripAdvisor defamation lawsuit is one to watch.
If a judge sides with the plaintiffs, it could change the way social media works.