Kristie Love's review, seven years later. Kristie Love's review, seven years later.

TripAdvisor removed traveler’s rape report

Review submitted seven years ago was rejected for not being 'family-friendly'

Leading travel review website TripAdvisor removed posts warning about rapes at Mexican resorts from its online forums, according to tourists who submitted them, and refused to publish other reviews that described negative experiences.

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In July, Wisconsin newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a report detailing several cases where tourists alleged they had either been drugged or served tainted alcohol at resorts in the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo that lead to blackouts, injuries and sexual assault. Previous alleged cases have resulted in deaths.

Since the July report, the Journal Sentinel says that over a dozen travelers have come forward with claims that reviews they wrote on TripAdvisor reporting their negative experiences at Mexican resorts have been deleted by the popular website.

The practice allegedly goes back at least seven years.

In October 2010, Texas woman Kristie Love wrote a post on the site describing a sexual assault she suffered at the Iberostar Paraiso resort near Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.

She wrote that after going out with friends, she returned to her room to find that her access card didn’t work so she headed to hotel reception to have it reactivated.

On her way she stopped to ask a security guard for directions. He told her to follow him but soon after he overpowered her and raped her in bushes on the resort’s grounds, she said. She went to report the incident in the hotel lobby but staff refused to call the police.

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Her post was published but removed soon after by a TripAdvisor moderator who ruled that it violated the company’s “family friendly” guidelines.

A similar assault involving a 19-year-old woman happened at the same resort in 2011 and a Wisconsin woman, Jamie Valeri, was also sexually assaulted there in 2015 after blacking out after just three drinks, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Valeri also tried to warn others of her experiencing by writing about it on TripAdvisor but she too had her post deleted, with the company labeling it as “hearsay.”

Valeri said that if she had seen Love’s 2010 post, “maybe we wouldn’t have gone or maybe that wouldn’t have happened to me.”

On October 19, TripAdvisor republished Love’s original post exactly seven years after she wrote it but it is now buried beneath thousands of more recent threads.

A TripAdvisor spokesman denies that the company is censoring forum participants, although its business model depends on having positive reviews that encourage users to make hotel bookings, either through the site or those of its partners.

“It’s the kind of information we absolutely want published,” Bryan Hoyt told the Journal Sentinel.

But several other users who have tried to publish their negative experiences challenge his claim.

Parents of tourists who have died at resorts in Mexico also claim that they have been blocked from sharing their stories on the site with TripAdvisor again using the “hearsay” defense, telling them that if they hadn’t actually been present, their stories could not be included on the site.

A New York woman booked a trip to an Iberostar property in the Riviera Maya based on its positive TripAdvisor reviews but says that after she had a different experience and attempted to post a negative review, it was rejected.

As recently as last month a review from Josh Resmini, telling how he was drugged and sexually assaulted by a massage therapist at the Grand Velas resort, was also rejected.

“We are unable to publish your review,” an email from TripAdvisor read, again citing “hearsay” as the reason why.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (en)  

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  • David Nichols

    Nothing to see here folks…move along, and bring money..!

  • WestCoastHwy

    The three sides to Mexico: “The Good”; “The Bad”; and “The Ugly”. When you stop to realize that when in Mexico, you are in a Third World Country; your not in Kansas any more. Many a night while sitting in various cantinas and clubs, you start to see the underbelly of the beast. TripAdviser was a good friend of mine during those times when reading advisory comments that the old administration would allow, saved me on numerous of times but this omission is criminal. I would believe that TripAdviser’ new administration are manipulative and corrupted like the rest of us.

    • Third World Country my backside. Mexico is, if I recall correctly, the 10th largest economy in the world. The middle class grows daily. You should come visit sometime to get a more accurate view of the situation.

      • Gary gimp

        Yes, the middle class grows daily. Meanwhile, kidnappings, torture, highway robberies, violence, corruption, grow daily as well.

      • Ba

        As a foreigner living in Mexico, as a whole I wouldn’t say Mexico is a third-world country although the impunity and normalization of the violence i think unfortunately are third-world traits (as is having graphic images on the front pages of newspapers in full view of kids). To truly become ‘first-world’ it’s necessary for citizens to stop denying things like this or making excuses. Not a criticism I like to make-I have fallen in love with the country. But I am fed up (as are many Mexicans) with my (Mexican) friends and (Mexican) loved ones having to suffer violence while other people downplay a real problem. Beautiful country, on the whole beautiful people…but 10th largest economy means zilch if we don’t have a police force or basic justice.

      • kallen

        It’s only 10th because of its vast oil reserves. Subtract that impact and it would be much lower on the scale – akin to 3rd world African countries. Indeed, while traveling through Africa recently I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to Mexico (lack of rule of law, masses uneducated, corruption, little social capital). Mexico is a 3rd world country masquerading as a 2nd world country; they can fool some but not those who spend time in Mexico and simply observe.

      • WestCoastHwy

        Sorry Senor Zapata, Mexico is a Third World Country and it’s economy is largely based on NAFTA, Walmart, The Home Depot, Auto Zone, Starbucks, now Petco, and foreign investment for it’s Third World Country wages. Most other GDP based income in on oil and mining of which is foreign investments. There are no Mexican auto companies, no private oil and gas companies, Carlos Slims and his sons are owner of half of Mexican wealth not to exclude some of the other Old Mexican Families. But I understand if your Mexican how you feel about coming from a Third World Country and can’t do anything about it, it’s pure frustration but please don’t over eat because of it, Mexico is label #1 in obesity.

  • ben

    there are resorts in st. barts, st & other nearby islands. the staff is generally french. most of the time they were young people working part time for college. st. barts run by france. no reason to go to a chain hotel in country where this is common place. i live here, its all true. TA will expose a fraudulant rental comp, & a bad hotel. crime? no so much. but what do i know? i was banned years ago. the big resorts will hire anyone. small family guest houses are more safe.

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