Tripadvisor was left with egg on its face today after a journalist revealed he had made a non-existent eatery the top-rated restaurant in London.
The Shed at Dulwich peaked on Tripadvisor’s rankings of the best restaurants in London in November, according to Vice writer Oobah Butler.
But the restaurant never existed, and was based on a shed in which Butler lives in a Dulwich back garden.
He said he thought of the idea after being paid by restaurants to leave positive reviews on their TripAdvisor profiles despite never having eaten there.
“This convinced me that TripAdvisor was a false reality – that the meals never took place; that the reviews were all written by other people like me,” he wrote.
Excited would-be diners began inundating Butler’s fictitious restaurant with booking requests.
He was even approached by a PR company hoping to win the contract to promote the hip restaurant.
Eventually Butler hosted an opening night at the so-called restaurant, featuring food from Iceland to a mix of genuine punters and actors.
Finally, the page was deleted, but kept as an archived version.
When contacted by City A.M., a spokesperson for TripAdvisor said: “Generally, the only people who create fake restaurant listings are journalists in misguided attempts to test us. As there is no incentive for anyone in the real world to create a fake restaurant it is not a problem we experience with our regular community”.
Responding to the possibility that fraudulent reviews are left on the site, the company said: "Between our teams, our tools and our community, we believe we have effective checks and balances in place to maintain the integrity of the reviews on TripAdvisor."