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Tripadvisor Fined in Italy

Crowdsourced reviews started as a great idea but one that must turn a corner before a ‘review’ begins to imply ‘digital marketing’.

Reference: the recent 500,000 Euro fine imposed by a Roman watchdog on travel ratings website TripAdvisor, as reported by ET Panache. The action followed complaints by consumers and restaurant/hotel owners that the “review system was unfair and unclear because fraudulent reviewers were not flagged.” On investigating the watchdog found and banned with immediate effect the practice of posting dubious reviews.

But to be cynical of reviews per se is to ignore innate human intuitiveness about what seems credible or not. And to be cynical of your judgment as an onlooker. Only sadly, a pattern is slow to emerge in text-based forums where sources are faceless, often unreal, their loyalties unverified. That’s why – and we maintain – video reviews are the way to go. Why?

One, every reviewer is unique. A face cannot be duplicated or changed, not without considerable time and money investment anyway.

Two, on camera, a reviewer puts ‘himself’ on review and is likely to be more responsible on how s/he presents him/herself.

Three, the extended process of creating a video tests the intensity of an extreme emotion. What’s likely to result is balanced feedback, with the benefit of hindsight.

What’s needed is putting faces to voices to names to hyper-connected social accounts. Now, please don’t ask if the model is sustainable in times of front cams, 3G speeds and integrated social platforms?