One of the most popular 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 travelers, they’re a bit of a double-edged sword for hotels, inns and resorts that market online. 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 latest case.
Kwikchex is leading the TripAdvisor Defamation Legal Charge
Industry valedictorian, TripAdvisor.com, is target #1. 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 civil lawsuit 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 argue that TripAdvisor’s “trusted community member review” pop-ups are endorsements, and therefore argue that the site is technically co-signing negative reviews of businesses.
- 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 as quickly as 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.
If you operate a hotel, and are currently embroiled in a consumer review trade libel argument, contact Kelly / Warner Law.