Tripadvisor is taking a major step towards fighting for the rights of its users by issuing a warning against a Thai hotel that took legal action against a customer after the man had left them bad reviews on the popular travel website. American Wesley Barnes was arrested after he accused the Sea View Resort of "modern day slavery" in his review.
In response to Barnes' reviews, the resort filed a complaint and he was arrested and charged with offences under Thailand's anti-defamation laws. Barnes was later forced to issue a public apology before he was eventually released.
However, Tripadvisor is fighting back. The platform is used by travellers from all over the world to browse through numerous hotels, restaurants and other travel-related businesses. Peer reviews play a big part in the website's popularity. Travellers often rely on customer reviews before they choose a service or business to book. As such, both positive and negative reviews are valued on the platform.
Even though users may now be forced to hold back on their review, Tripadvisor took it upon themselves to issue a warning on the hotel's listing on their website.
"This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a Tripadvisor user in relation to the traveller writing and posting online reviews. The reviewer spent time in jail as a result," it says.
"The hotel may have been exercising its legal rights under local law, however, it is our role to inform you so you may take this into consideration when researching your travel plans," it adds.
The warning only states the facts about the incident, but anyone who happens to land on the hotel's listing while making travel plans will be made aware of the case. This is the first time that Tripadvisor has issued such a warning about any establishment that appears on the website.
It remains to be seen if Sea View Resort wll take any further action. Mr. Barnes has left Thailand last week.