Flogging is not only a form of punishment but now also refers to a form of blogging known as “commercial blogging” or “fake blogging“. Travelmole reported today that the EU has passed a law which makes it illegal for hotel (or other companies) to write false reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. The article further states that:
The new law includes two categories of unfair commercial practise – misleading practices and aggressive practices. Whether a practise is deemed unfair will be judged in light of the effect it has on the average consumer’s consequent decision to purchase.
What surprises me most about this law is that it defies the whole reason for TripAdvisor’s growth and popularity. It doesn’t really matter if hotels go in and write fake reviews about themselves or their competitors because the model is built on the basis that a single review has very little weight. The power of review systems like TripAdvisor is in the number of reviews that a hotel receives and the statistical significance of those reviews and ratings. For example, a hotel that has 1000 reviews where 80% of the are negative is going to have to post 1600 fake positive reviews to make any kind of significant impact on their rating. I don’t know about you but what hotelier has the time or money to write that many reviews and wouldn’t it make more sense to spend the money on improving their hotel?
Overall, I can appreciate why the EU developed the law. Perhaps they should have apply a punishment that fits the name. Take a look at some of Joe Buhler’s comments on the Travelmole article, he makes some very good points.
Note: I’ll have to add “Flogging” to my already bloated list of semi-useless blogging references.