Google, fined in France for falsifying hotel ratings

Google was forced by the European authorities to pay the amount of 1.1 million euros, after the automatic algorithms would have allowed to influence the ratings given to the hotels on the territory of the country.

Trouble would have started from the fact that Google influenced user ratings using its own algorithm, which turned the end result in a certain direction.

Starting in 2019, following complaints from hoteliers, the French Consumer Protection Authority (DGCCRF), with authority and to investigate anti-competitive practices, has initiated an investigation into this rating system applied to hotel class locations. Investigations showed that Google was replacing the standard classification system of the public tourism council (Atout France) with a star rating system based on its own criteria, which was applied to over 7,500 hotel units.

At a basic level, Google’s concept for a “five-star” hotel was not at the same level as the Atout France version. In any case, Google’s classification of tourist destinations, including the definition of the term “star” on a scale of 1 to 5, does not exactly live up to expectations and can be confusing to ordinary consumers.

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“This practice has been particularly harmful for consumers, who are misled as to the level of services compared to real accommodation conditions. It has also led to damage to hoteliers whose units have been misrepresented as being lower than the official Atout France ranking ”.

According to the DGCCRF, Google has facilitated misleading business practices, unduly benefiting certain hotel operators.

What is certain is that Google did not challenge the sanction imposed. In addition, Google has changed hotel ratings in France to reflect the official criteria set by Atout France. So, tourists in France can trust that a five-star hotel they see on Google Maps has attached a standard that cannot be influenced by any of the usual hacking tactics practiced to increase online visibility. For the rest of Europe, it remains to be seen.

Source: Go4IT by

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