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Action We TakeJuli 2020
We’re a platform that’s open to everyone to leave a review for a business they’ve had a genuine experience with, and we want to make sure everyone trusts the reviews they see on Trustpilot.
Being an open platform means we need to maintain a balance between being open, and making sure that the reviews on Trustpilot fairly reflect the genuine experience of real consumers. Thankfully, the majority of businesses and consumers use Trustpilot in the way it was intended. Constructive feedback helps businesses listen, engage and improve their service experience; and this benefits everyone.
However, there will always be a small minority that try to manipulate our systems and undermine the integrity of our platform to influence people’s opinions. That’s why we have a dedicated team of enforcement agents and investigators - backed by cutting-edge automated technology and data analysis - to detect, investigate and take action.
Here, you’ll find out more about the kinds of misuse and misbehaviour we encounter, the action we take to prevent it, and the consequences for anyone who breaches our Guidelines.
When we talk about fake reviews, we mean reviews that don’t reflect a genuine service or buying experience with a business, and have been left in a deliberate attempt to manipulate consumer perception or behaviour. Examples of fake reviews include:
- where a business leaves a review on its own Trustpilot profile;
- reviews that have been paid for in an effort to manipulate a business’ rating on Trustpilot;
- reviews left on a competitor’s Trustpilot page in a deliberate attempt to undermine their rating on Trustpilot;
- advertising or promotional messages of any kind that are disguised as reviews.
There’s no place for fake reviews on Trustpilot. Where we detect fake reviews, we’ll remove them and take action.
Unfair review collection
Any business can use Trustpilot for free to invite consumers who have had a genuine experience. If you’re asking for reviews, your invitation process and language should be fair, neutral and unbiased.
Where we have detected, or have reason to believe, that a business isn’t collecting reviews in a fair, neutral or unbiased way, we’ll take action to stop this. Examples of unfair collection include:
- Asking a family member, friend, employee or anyone with a conflict of interest to leave a review for your business;
- Selectively inviting (or “cherry-picking”) customers to leave reviews to increase the likelihood of receiving positive reviews;
- Offering customers incentives, such as discounts, money-off future purchases, gifts, referral bonuses or any other value in exchange for a review;
- Pressuring or demanding that customers leave a review for you on Trustpilot, or remove or edit their existing review;
- Asking customers to leave a review for you while they are in store (this is only allowed if we have agreed this in advance) or using a company device (this is never allowed);
- Asking reviewers to remove or edit their reviews in exchange for a service (like a refund, or support request), discount or any other incentives.
Any business or user on our site can report or flag a review they think breaches our Guidelines. Users can flag a review by clicking the flag icon displayed on every review on Trustpilot. Businesses can report a review via their Business Account on Trustpilot, or if you don’t have a Business Account, by getting in touch with our Content Integrity team.
Reviews can be reported where they:
- contain harmful or illegal content;
- contain personal information;
- contain advertising or promotional information;
- are not based on a genuine experience;
- are about a different business (only businesses can report for this reason).
Where a review is reported for one of the reporting reasons, and the report is valid, we’ll remove the review because it breaches our Guidelines.
Misuse of Reporting
All businesses and users of our site have the ability to report a review that breaches our Guidelines. Occasionally, we see our reporting tools being misused through inconsistent reporting, or unfairly reporting reviews that don’t breach our Guidelines. Examples of misuse of our reporting tools include:
- Rapidly reporting reviews; this would indicate that the reviews are not being properly considered or assessed;
- Reporting a large proportion of genuine negative reviews in an effort to get these removed from their profile;
- Reporting the same review over and over again to try and get it removed from their profile
We’re committed to conducting our business with the highest ethical standards; we talk more about this in our Code of Ethics. Trust, transparency, and integrity are values that are important to us.
As an open review platform, anyone can create a profile for a business on Trustpilot. We believe this is the best way to make sure consumers have a voice, and a place to speak freely about their genuine experiences.
However, where a business that doesn’t align with our ethical standards is added to Trustpilot, we’ll take steps to remove and block them from our platform. We refer to these businesses as being a ‘bad-fit’ for Trustpilot.
A bad-fit business can cause or create harm, and they don’t share our values and core beliefs; it’s for these reasons that we simply don’t want them on Trustpilot.
The types of businesses we don’t want on Trustpilot, and would consider to be bad-fits, are those that:
- aid businesses or individuals to manipulate news, reviews, documents and results;
- promote hatred, violence, terrorism, xenophobia or any form of discrimination against any individual or group;
- offer illegal products and services; illegal drugs, prescription drugs sold on the illegal market;
- provide or facilitate the provision of escort services, mail-order brides, prostitution or any form of forced labour or human trafficking;
- offer or produce any sexual abuse or explicit imagery, and any material that presents children or animals in a sexual or illegal manner;
- organize illegal animal fights or sell products made with endangered animal parts
- facilitate criminal activities of any sort, including those carried out by means of computers or the Internet;
- are engaged in financial scams such as pyramid schemes, credit card fraud, mortgage scams; or, otherwise operate illegally; for example, selling fake or unsafe goods and services, or generally mis-sell.
Once a potential bad-fit business is reported to us, we’ll look into it and take action, if needed. If we agree that the business is a bad-fit we’ll remove them from Trustpilot. If you come across a business on Trustpilot you believe may be a bad-fit, you can report it to us.
If a business displays the Trustpilot Designs in a misleading or deceptive way, we’ll take action to stop this. Examples of brand misuse include:
- Misleading consumers by displaying an old, or out of date, TrustScore or Star Rating instead of using our dynamic Trustboxes or including up to date information;
- Displaying reviews or other Trustpilot Designs on a business’ website, in advertising or on another domain without our permission.
When a business claims its profile on Trustpilot, that business can edit their profile description for everyone to see. The majority of businesses use this as an opportunity to provide relevant and useful information, like a description of their services, opening times, location of premises and contact information.
If we detect a business is editing their profile to include information that is deceptive, misleading, illegal or harmful; or otherwise undermines the integrity of the profile, we’ll take steps to remove the information and block further access to the profile.
Abuse towards the Trustpilot community
We don’t tolerate any abuse, aggression or threats to our employees, reviewers or anyone in the Trustpilot community. Where we become aware of behaviour that is abusive or disrespectful we’ll act quickly to prevent harm, and take further actions, as appropriate, to stop this behaviour being repeated in the future.
How do we stop misbehaviour and misuse?
Our mission is to be seen as a universal symbol of trust. Where we identify attempts to undermine the integrity of, and trust in, reviews and businesses on Trustpilot, our dedicated team of enforcement specialists will investigate and take some, or all, of the following actions:
When we detect misbehaviour, we’ll send a warning to a business or a reviewer asking them to stop and explain why they’ve received a warning. We’ll also take corrective actions like removing reviews we’ve identified as being fake.
If we suspect the misbehaviour is particularly bad, or if we believe there is a real risk to consumers, or the integrity of our platform, we may go straight to any one of the enforcement steps below.
Where a business continues to engage in misbehaviour after receiving a warning, we’ll send a formal notice demanding that they stop. If the action continues after a formal notice has been sent, we will end our relationship with the business.
If a business has been sent a formal notice for breaching our Guidelines, we record this in our internal systems, and make sure they can’t sign up for a paid subscription on Trustpilot until the behaviour causing the breach has stopped.
For businesses with a paid subscription, we’ll place restrictions on their account so they can’t change plans, upgrade or renew a subscription until breaches of our Guidelines have stopped.
Ending our relationship
If a business has a paid subscription with Trustpilot, and it continues to breach our Guidelines after we’ve sent them a formal notice, we’ll terminate their subscription.
At this point we’ll also downgrade the functionality of their accounts to the bare minimum, meaning they can only respond to and report reviews; they’ll still need this ability because we don’t monitor reviews and rely on our community, including businesses, to flag reviews which breach our Guidelines . We do this for all businesses, whether they had a paying subscription with us or not. These businesses are prevented from sending review invites from our platform, and they can’t display the Trustpilot Designs or use our Trustboxes.
Consumer Warnings and Alerts
As part of our commitment to consumers, when a business breaches our Guidelines and doesn’t stop the behavior causing the breach, or continues to undermine the integrity of our platform, we’ll place a Consumer Warning on their business profile page.
A Consumer Warning is a prominent notification explaining that a business has been misusing Trustpilot, and we’ll explain what that behaviour is.
We’ll keep Consumer Warnings on a profile page for a fixed time, and will review it to see if a business is continuing to misuse our platform. We don’t remove a Consumer Warning until all misbehaviour has ceased, and a reasonable amount of time has passed: this helps to ensure that consumers have been made aware of a business’ attempts to mislead consumers, or otherwise misuse our platform.
We also use Consumer Alerts when there hasn’t necessarily been misuse, but we think there is information users should be made aware of. For example, if a business has been subject to significant media attention, or is being investigated by a regulator.
We keep Consumer Alerts on a business’s profile page for as long as necessary to raise awareness.
Block search engine data
When we place a consumer warning on a business’ profile page on Trustpilot, we’ll also stop sharing any information with search engines about that business. This means that we’ll stop sharing data like the TrustScore, star rating and other review data that search engines may display in their search results, or otherwise use to index and rank businesses in search.
Blocking Reviewer accounts
Where a reviewer repeatedly breaches our Guidelines for Reviewers, such as posting fake or harmful reviews, or threatening businesses in any way, we’ll suspend or block access to their Trustpilot profile.
Depending on the nature and severity of the misuse and behavior causing us to take action, and the risk to our community, we may also take the following action(s) to prevent harm to consumers and trust in our platform:
Legal action, including court proceedings; Sharing information with law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies or the media to raise awareness; Sharing information with third parties, where it is reasonable and proportionate to do so.