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TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer outlined policy changes Thursday after a backlash from a report that revealed how comments detailing sexual assaults and rape were removed from the site.
Multiple people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that their stories of blackouts and rapes, among others, had been removed from TripAdvisor. In response, the company announced it would suggest edits to posts instead of simply rejecting them. It also plans to add a designation to resorts that had been flagged for issues like sexual assault.
Kaufer said TripAdvisor allows "firsthand descriptions of horrific events, like rape." However, he noted, secondhand information could cause for a post to be deleted.
"When reviews have been rejected in the past, it's never been because they've said something bad. It's occasionally been because the review itself contained secondhand information. It contained other rumors or innuendo that was posted," Kaufer said on Thursday, in an interview with NBC News.
"And that's another policy change," he added. "We won't just reject the review, we'll encourage the reviewer to come forward, perhaps taking out a sentence or two that we'll highlight for them in order to get that firsthand story reported so that everyone else can see it. I really think that in turn will go a long way in presenting a much more complete story for travelers all around the world."
TripAdvisor last week announced a new marker to indicate hotels and resorts that have garnered accounts of sexual assaults and other concerns like health, safety and discrimination issues. Three resorts in Mexico have already been flagged.
TripAdvisor started thinking about the idea months ago, Kaufer said Thursday, noting that the designation does not always need to start with a review. A resort may receive a badge if a credible media report identifies an issue, he said.
"We came up with the idea that even when the reviews themselves may not mention something that we feel is important for travelers to understand, we want to have a mechanism to be able to post that, and so that's what we've finally rolled out now," Kaufer said.
The site's mission is to help travelers understand what their vacation will be like, Kaufer said. And the badges add an extra layer to that.