from the thank-goodness-for-section-230 dept
The American company, which allows travelers to rate hotels and restaurants around the world, has been fined 500,000 euros, or about $610,000, by an Italian regulator for not doing enough to prevent false reviews on its site.Except, of course, it's not TripAdvisor "publishing" the "misleading information." It's TripAdvisor's users. This is the key point that we've made about Section 230: that it forces people to recognize the difference between a site and its users. In the past, we've even noted that we shouldn't even need a Section 230 because it should be common sense that you don't blame a site for the actions of its users -- but seeing how frequently people do that, the importance of Section 230 is quickly obvious.
The fine represents one of the first times that a review site has faced financial penalties in Europe or the United States for failing to clamp down on potentially false reviews.
The regulator, the Italian Competition Authority, called on TripAdvisor to stop “publishing misleading information about the sources of its reviews,” and gave the company 90 days to comply with the ruling.
TripAdvisor says it's going to appeal the decision -- as it should. Otherwise, it makes you wonder if TripAdvisor should bother doing business in Italy at all. And that would be a real shame. Just last year I visited Italy, and TripAdvisor was tremendously helpful in picking the hotel where I stayed (which turned out to be wonderful). Blaming and fining the site because some people misuse it seems like setting a really dangerous precedent.