Lonely Planet Writer

Fake restaurant takes top spot on TripAdvisor

Tripadvisor hoodwinked by fake restaurant reviews.
Tripadvisor hoodwinked by fake restaurant reviews. Image by Franklin Heijnen / CC BY-SA 2.0

An entirely fictitious restaurant named ‘La Scaletta’, which was created by the Italian newspaper Italia a Tavola, took under a month to reach the top spot on TripAdvisor’s ranking for the Italian town of Moniga del Garda. In an attempt to prove how easy it is for fraudsters to manipulate rankings on the popular travel website, the journalists worked with restaurant owners to give the fake restaurant positive reviews. It took just ten five-star reviews for the fake restaurant to overtake the town’s previous top-ranked restaurant, despite the fact it had over 300 reviews, over 200 of them five-star. TripAdvisor deleted the restaurant just ten minutes after it was revealed to be a fake, saying that the methods used by the newspaper were ’unethical’ and the experiment was ‘meaningless’. Read more: thelocal.it