New TripAdvisor badge warns users of sexual assault at hotels

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Travel review website TripAdvisorhas launched a new warning "badge" system to identify hotels and listings where sexual assaults have been reported. These badges are created to flag all safety, health and discrimination issued, that include sexual assault, rape and theft, a spokesperson for TripAdvisor said in a prepared statement released to the media. They advise anyone considering visiting the properties to "perform additional research for information" when making travel plans.

"TripAdvisor said the three were the first to be 'badged" but not likely the last.

Thus far it has put the message, which it refers to as a badge, on pages for three Mexican resorts. The Journal Sentinel reported the company had repeatedly removed a post by Love from 2010 in which she said she had been raped by a security guard at Iberostar Paraiso Maya. The badge is red and placed at the top of these hotel listings.

The new approach to warning guests about safety concerns comes after The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week that TripAdvisor had removed forum posts and reviews warning about rape and injuries at several resorts in Mexico. The company said her post had violated a previous policy that permitted only "family-friendly" language in its reviews.

Recently, we reported on a case where a woman contacted TripAdvisor about whether to book a hotel that had a sexual assault warning attached to it.

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This badge will stay up for three months after an incriminating post, and "if the issue persists", the company says it will keep it up longer. "These badges are meant to be informative, not punitive", he told the paper.

TripAdvisor has made it easier for its users to see if safety concerns have been stated about hotels they research. TripAdvisor refused to show the Journal Sentinel which posts it had deleted, the newspaper said.

Following the report, TripAdvisor apologized to Kristie Love, a 35-year-old mother from Dallas. "'No, we're not going to call the police, ma'am, '" she recalled in her conversation with the outlet. They are popular resorts located in the Playa del Carmen region of Mexico, and each has thousands of TripAdvisor reviews.

"While I know nothing I tell you can ever undo what happened to you, or make up for the anguish caused by not being able to warn others about your sexual assault on our platform at the time, I hope this letter helps clarify our current policies and explain the measures in place to ensure experiences like yours can be shared on TripAdvisor", Kaufer said. Reviews in the past have been rejected on grounds of hearsay, as they would sometimes cite the opinion of someone else or include a medical diagnosis.

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