The Council of State, accepting the appeal presented by the Competition and Market Supervisory Authority, criticized TripAdvisor for having spread misleading information on the sources of its reviews.
The judgment concerned in particular some TripAdvisor claims, which were considered “suitable to generate in an average user of the Internet the false conviction of the reliability and authenticity of the published reviews.”
TripAdvisor will have to pay a fine of 100,000 euro. The incorrect commercial practice had been sanctioned by the Antitrust Authority in 2014 following reports made by the National Consumers Union, Federalberghi – the Federation of Italian Associations Hotels and Tourism – and some consumers.
Federalberghi is the main entrepreneurial organization of the tourist-receptive sector in Italy. The association represents the requests and interests of hoteliers towards institutions, political, economic and trade union organizations. More than 27,000 hotels belong to Federalberghi out of a total of around 33,000, through 127 territorial associations.
Federalberghi, has made an appeal to stop anonymous reviews and urges that web portals should only publish real reviews written by true consumers that tell of a real experience. The organization expressed its appreciation for the ruling of the Council of State, which confirmed the need to clean up a system polluted by fake reviews.
It was only a few months ago, remembered the federation of hoteliers, the sentence of the Criminal Court of Lecce, (Apulia region) which defined a crime as the fact of writing false reviews under a false name and inflicted 9 months of jail to a “drug dealer” of fake reviews who wrote and sold fake reviews using a false identity.
“But the work, albeit meritorious, of the judiciary is not enough to bring order to a market that is traveling at the speed of light. It is sufficient to consider that it was necessary to wait 4 years to obtain a definitive judgment of the Council of State on a single disputed episode.”
According to Federalberghi: “The solution cannot but lie in a robust affirmation of the principle of responsibility. The first step that portals must take to establish a system in which true reviews, written by real customers, that tell a true experience, prevail, it is a decided STOP to anonymous reviews and convenient nicknames.
“Everyone must be free to express their opinion. But the people who read the review and the company being reviewed have the right to know the real identity of the author and to know if he is telling lies or an authentic experience.”