CBS Local — The investigation into an alleged rape of an American tourist at a Mexican resort in 2010 has uncovered shocking practices by one of the largest hotel review websites around.
According to an investigative report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, review website TripAdvisor is being accused of removing numerous comments by tourists who claim they were drugged, assaulted, robbed, or even raped at high-end resorts in Mexico. The report says the website has removed any comment that has called the safety of guests at these locations into question. In place of the reviewer’s post were messages from TripAdvisor that claimed the reviews were “inappropriate,” “off-topic,” or were not “family friendly.”
The startling revelations of the website’s alleged censorship of potential victims came to light after Kristie Love of Dallas fought to have her story told. Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s in-depth report, the mother of two alleges she was raped by a security guard at a Mexican hotel run by Iberostar resorts. After hotel management reportedly refused to help the tourist call police, the woman posted the details of her attack on TripAdvisor.
“I just needed to be able to lay my head at night and know I did the best I could and I felt like I did the best I could in getting the word out,” Love told the Journal Sentinel.
Love’s mission was reportedly stalled by TripAdvisor, who regularly deleted her claims against the resort every time she posted them on the website. After continued pressure from reporters to address the presumed cover-up, TripAdvisor finally re-posted Love’s warning about the Iberostar resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico seven years after the reported attack.
“I am very thankful the light has finally been shed,” the Dallas mother added.
The review website claims its policy on posting guidelines are “evolving” since Kristie Love’s warnings began to be deleted. However, warnings from other tourists at Mexican resorts have allegedly been taken down by TripAdvisor as recently as July 2017. The Journal Sentinel reports that 27 of the 55 replies to a woman’s question about a trip to Riviera Maya were deleted by the website. The company has reportedly refused to reveal what the comments said.
In August, the U.S. State Department extended a 2016 travel warning to tourists heading to Mexico. Government officials warn Americans of, “violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states.”
Kristie Love’s case remains unsolved after a Mexican police officer investigating the rape was murdered. After Love returned to Mexico to file a police report and seek help from authorities, the police chief in charge of the case was shot dead in his squad car. Local news reports reportedly claimed the killing was meant to intimidate law enforcement.