- Google and TripAdvisor have imposed restrictions on Russian business reviews.
- Activists have used criticism on the platforms to post details and protests about the invasion of Ukraine.
- Google blocks new user reviews in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Online review giants Google and TripAdvisor have disabled reviews in Russia and Ukraine after people used them as a space to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While Google said Le It blocked all new reviews, TripAdvisor told Insider that it only locked reviews on ads when it noticed an increase in the number of people using reviews to talk about the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.
Several media outlets reported earlier this week that Russian businesses were being inundated with reviews containing messages about the invasion of Ukraine.
The campaign appeared to be partly boosted by an online hacking group Anonymous, tweeted to the 7.7 million followers of the Twitter account @youranonnews. The tweets recommended that they leave messages about “what’s happening in Ukraine” in Google Maps reviews for Russian businesses and restaurants.
A review captured by CNET for a cafe in Moscow read: “Your government is lying to you about the conflict in Ukraine. This is not a rescue operation and there are no Nazis there! »
“A lot of children and innocent people died. Don’t listen to government propaganda,” the review said.
In a televised speech on the first day of the invasion of Russia, President Vladimir Putin declared that the invasion of Ukraine was justified as “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine”.
Google’s response to the campaign was to disable new reviews.
A Google spokesperson told CNET in a statement: “Due to a recent increase in content contributed to Google Maps related to the war in Ukraine, we have implemented additional protections to monitor and prevent content that violates our rules for Maps, including temporarily blocking new reviews, photos and videos in the area. »
Google told The Wall Street Journal the review suspension applied to sites in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
CNET reported that many reviews left on Russian businesses were later removed by Google. A Google spokesperson told Insider in an email Wednesday that it had removed user contributions, including Google Maps reviews in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus since the invasion began, by “abundance.” of caution”.
A spokesperson for TripAdvisor told Insider that the company does not impose a blanket ban on new reviews for Russian or Ukrainian businesses.
“Tripadvisor is closely monitoring all incoming review submissions for businesses located in affected countries, and we will take action to apply what we call “lockdown notices” whenever a business receives an influx of review submissions. ‘reviews that do not describe first-hand customer experiences,’ the TripAdvisor spokesperson told Insider.
Insider interviewed ten restaurant ads in Moscow, all of which carried a message from TripAdvisor saying:
“Due to a recent event that attracted media attention and caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended posting new reviews for this listing. »
He told users to check back soon if they had a first-hand experience at the property.
Insider also polled ten restaurant and bar ads in Kyiv, none of which carried the same message.