Trump Is Freaking Out About the Wrong Border: Killer Fentanyl Is Coming From Canada

President Donald Trump has made building a wall along the southern border the backbone of his anti-drug policy to keep deadly narcotics like fentanyl from entering the country from Mexico.

But last month, as the president was delivering remarks at yet another public listening session on the opioid crisis, focusing his attention on a multimillion-dollar security investment on Americas southwest border, law enforcement officials in Canada announced they had shut down a massive flow of deadly narcotics coming to the U.S. from the opposite direction.

The trafficking operation, based in Calgary, Albertajust a three-hour drive north of the Montana borderwas capable of producing an estimated 18,000 counterfeit pills an hour for export to the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Cutting dyes on seized pill presses bore the stamps 80 and CDN, which are commonly associated with the prescription painkiller OxyContin. But there was no oxycodone (the active ingredient in Oxys) to be found. Instead, investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Clandestine Lab Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) Team discovered 18 kilos of suspected fentanyl in two different locations.

The investigation began in 2016 when police near Provo, Utah, pulled over a pickup truck carrying three men and 200 pounds of methamphetamine. Press reports at the time described it as the states largest ever meth bust, valued at $1.5 million on the street.

The men were all Canadian, and police would soon learn that meth trafficking was just a small part of the bilateral flow of drugs the group was moving across the U.S. border with Canada.

Had their trip been successful that day, the men would have continued traveling north on I-15, through Montana, and into Canada for their final stretch into Calgary. Thats where the leader of their group, Allistair Chapmanonce a rising star in Albertas competitive amateur ice hockey communityhad assembled a multi-national narcotics enterprise that exported counterfeit pills from Canada to the U.S. and returned home with cocaine and methamphetamine trafficked from Mexico. Primarily this group acted as a wholesale drug distributor. Were talking about large scale drug shipments at the multi kilo level, said Staff Sgt. Barry McCurdy, a spokesperson for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) in Calgary, at a press conference on March 1 announcing the arrests of Chapman and five associates on drug and firearms charges.

At the time of the raid authorities said the pill presses were being used to manufacture steroids, but tests showed they were contaminated with fentanyl.

By dismantling this lab we cut off a significant amount of fentanyl, McCurdy said.

Investigators believe the group was also responsible for a double homicide committed in 2017 outside a Calgary shopping center that they believe was tied to a drug dispute.

The bust was the third major fentanyl seizure in Alberta in less than a year, and the second since January. Last July, police in Edmonton raided five homes in what was then-touted as the largest fentanyl seizure in Canadian history: 130,000 counterfeit pills along with two presses capable of producing 10,000 pills an hour. Then in January, rescue personnel responding to a house fire discovered 16 kilos of carfentanila powerful synthetic opioid believed to be 10,000-times more powerful than morphinemixed with a cutting agent in the basement of another house in Edmonton. The powder was dyed pink and blue (indicating is was prepared to be pressed into pills).

For the Edmonton Police Service, in respect to carfentanil, its the largest seizure that Im aware of, Inspector Shane Perka of the Edmonton Police Service told reporters after the bust. This is a very substantial seizure.

Last July, police in Edmonton raided five homes in what was then-touted as the largest fentanyl seizure in Canadian history: 130,000 counterfeit pills along with two presses capable of producing 10,000 pills an hour.

Some of that fentanyl is making it onto U.S. soil. From 2013 to 2016 fatalities linked to illicit fentanyl in the U.S. rose more than 500 percent; most of those who died, including the musician Prince, didnt choose to take the drug.

A report this month indicates that Prince, who died in Minnesota (which shares a border with Canada) had exceedingly high levels of the synthetic narcotic in his system. Authorities found an assortment of counterfeit pills in the musicians home.

Investigators have not revealed where the fentanyl that killed Prince came from or how he obtained it, but the Minnesota Department of Health has identified Canada as a primary conduit for Chinese-made synthetic opioids entering the state.

As The Daily Beast reported in 2016, in recent years Chinese labs have become a supplier of powerful fentanyl analogs designed to skirt U.S. law by modifying the chemical structure of the drugs.Last year China banned more than 100 of these analogs, and over the past two years the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has scheduled dozens of new novel opioids with close chemical structures to fentanyl. However they were unable to keep up with innovative clandestine chemists, and in February the DEA classified all chemicals with a structure similar to fentanyl under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Canada is hardly a new player when it comes to satisfying demand for contraband in the U.S.

Long-established smuggling routes exist across Americas notoriously porous northern border, which has 120 points of entry, and stretches more than 5,500 milesencompassing large areas of remote wilderness and numerous waterways.

The Northern Border doesnt always make headlines, but for too long it has been understaffed and there have not been sufficient resources to effectively combat drug trafficking and other crimes that can come across the border, said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who has sponsored legislation to strengthen security at the U.S.-Canada border.

During Prohibition, its estimated that 60-90 percent of booze entering the United States came from distilleries and breweries north of the U.S. border.

The border between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit was a nexus of post-war drug trafficking; and until the early 1980s, heroin traffickers associated with fragments of the French Connection were still funneling large quantities of heroin from French-speaking Quebec to distribution networks in New York.

In 1987, federal prosecutors in Florida indicted 49 people in a massive cross-border conspiracy that was responsible for supplying 3.5 million counterfeit quaaludes to the U.S. market, or 70 percent of the illegal trade in the drug, according to prosecutors. And in 2008, authorities shut down a marijuana smuggling operation that had been shuttling hundreds of pounds of high-quality pot across the border from Ontario and into Western Pennsylvania disguised as commercial food shipments.

In recent years, Canada emerged as a global epicenter of synthetic and counterfeit drug manufacturing and processingwith everything from MDMA to fake Viagra flowing from clandestine labs north of the U.S. border. A 2005 State Department cable identified Canada as a significant producer and transit country for precursor chemicals used to produce synthetic drugs, and a hot spot of rising clandestine lab activity.

From 2012 to 2015 more than 500 pounds of MDMA was seized at the northern border, accounting for more than 90 percent of all Customs seizures of the drug.

We are increasingly concerned about the multitude of routes of travel these illegal and grey-market synthetic drugs are taking as they come into the region, and Canada is one route we feel bears watching, said Jeremiah Daley, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a program run by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. While cross-border cooperation remains very strong with Canadian law enforcement, with so much focus being placed on our Southern Border, with good reason, we still need to be vigilant about threats coming from the North.

In 2016 alone, U.S. Customs officials reported 2,015 drug arrests at land crossings at the U.S.-Canada border, while Canadian officials made more than 18,000 drug seizures. Trafficking groups routinely engage in so-called double exchanges in which designer drugs passed from Canada to the U.S. are exchanged for other narcotics, such as cocaine, for shipment back to Canada.

Trafficking groups routinely engage in so-called double exchanges in which drugs passed from Canada to the U.S. are exchanged for other narcotics like cocaine for shipment to Canada.

A dozen U.S. states share a border with Canada, including some of those hit hardest by the overdose crisis, such as New Hampshire and Vermont.

A State Department document published in 2011 describes the difficulty of policing the flow of drugs over these border crossings:

The stealth with which both natural and synthetic drugs including marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine are produced in Canada and trafficked to the United States, makes it extremely difficult to measure the overall impact of such transshipments from this shared border country, although U.S. law enforcement agencies record considerable seizures of these substances from Canada.

For years hockey bags have been described as a favored means of moving drugs from the U.S. to Canada, and in some cases they have been literally thrown across the border for pickup on the other side.

A story published in the Canadian news magazine MacLeans in 2009 refers to Canada as The New Global Drug Lord, citing data showing that more than 60 percent of the methamphetamine seized in Japan and more than 80 percent in Australia is synthesized in Canada.

While the fentanyl crisis is often treated like a monolith in the U.S. press, there are wide geographical variations in supply of the drug. Mexico remains the dominant supplier of illicitly manufactured powdered fentanyl in most major heroin markets, but the first wave of fentanyl overdoses following the crackdown on prescription-drug abuse in the U.S. was driven largely by a wave of adulterated pills, many of the them from Canada.

Part of the blame lays with the pharmaceutical industry.

When Purdue Pharmaceutical introduced a new abuse-deterrent OxyContin in the U.S. in 2010which made it more difficult to crush for snorting and shootingthe original formulation remained on the market in Canada for another two years.

Smuggling of OxyContin from Canada to the U.S. spiked.

Im talking about trafficking organizations that are bringing in a thousand pills or so at a time, said James Burns, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administrations operations in the state of New York.

Then, suddenly, OxyContin dried up in the Canadian market as well. In May 2013, just months after Purdue began withdrawing the drug from the Canadian market, authorities in Montreal seized 10,000 pills made of acetyl fentanyl in a microwave oven and toaster that were destined for Colorado. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration enough additional material was seized to make three million more pills.

The RCMP blames much of the trafficking on criminal groups with connections to Asian source countries, where the precursors for most synthetic drugs are sourced. The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada says Asian gangs are especially strong in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Torontoall cities where fentanyl is endemic. According to published reports, the powerful 14K and Sun Yee On triads are suppliers of precursor chemicals to Mexicos Sinaloa Cartel.

Much of the focus is on transnational shipments of the drugs and their precursor ingredients from China. And Asian organized crime groups in Canada have been implicated in a number of cross-border drug trafficking schemes over the years. A 2011 report from the Department of Justice said Vietnamese and Chinese gangs produce tens of millions of [MDMA] tablets for the U.S. market, smuggling the drugs through border crossings in Washington, Michigan, New York, and Vermont.

Last year, when federal authorities in the U.S. unveiled their first indictment of Chinese nationals for trafficking fentanyl they traced shipments to from China via Canada. The investigation was launched following the death of an 18-year-old North Dakota man.

Five Canadians were arrested as part of the trafficking ring.

Fentanyl is easier to synthesize in a lab than MDMA, and Canadian syndicates are not only pressing pills but also manufacturing the drug.

Between 2011 and 2015, six clandestine labs were identified in Canada where illicit fentanyl production occurred or was intended to occur, according to Health Canada.

In 2015 authorities in Alberta seized 100 kilograms of the fentanyl precursor N-phenethylpiperidinone (NPP) at the Edmonton International Airport. They said the precursor was capable of producing 38 million fentanyl pills. The seizure led to a nine-month investigation dubbed Project Alchemy that ultimately turned up four kilos of the synthetic opioid W-18, 3,200 fentanyl pills, 2.5 kilos of methamphetamine, and more fentanyl precursor chemicals.

Canadian authorities are so concerned about transnational trafficking in designer opioids that they issued an advisory in January describing red flags for exposing money laundering tied to the importation of fentanyl or precursors used to make the drug.

The Department of Justice declined comment on the administrations commitment to northern border security.However, the emerging threat of synthetic drugs trafficked from Canada has not gone unnoticed by officials in the U.S. In 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Northern Border Security Review Act, which was sponsored by Sen. Heitkamp and passed Congress with bipartisan support. As a result of the law, last year the U.S. government issued its inaugural Northern Border Threat Assessment identifying bilateral drug trafficking as the single greatest threat along the U.S.-Canada border.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) has just one agent at the northern border for every nine patrolling southwest points of entry, despite the Canadian border being more than twice as long.

With fentanyl on its way to replacing heroin in most major drug markets, its not a matter of if, but how traffickers will get the synthetic opioid on U.S. soil. President Trump seems intent on closing one window for traffickers, but it will have limited effect as long as another, even bigger window, remains ajar.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-is-freaking-out-about-the-wrong-border-killer-fentanyl-is-coming-from-canada

9 Things I Never Knew About Cruises Until I Ran the Worlds Largest Ship

At a time when travelers are feeling more precious than ever about “authentic experiences,” the cruise industry is doubling down on the exact opposite: completely manufactured fun. Leading the pack is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., whose mega-ships are destinations unto themselves: Its restaurants, casinos, Broadway-caliber musicals, silent disco parties, skating rinks, karaoke, dance clubs, and escape-the-room experiences are such strong lures, some guests don’t even bother to look up where the ship is docking. 

So when the cruise line invited me to join the ranks as temporary director of its largest ship, —which is as big as five s—I knew I was signing up for the most manic week of my life. 

As cruise director, my primarily responsibility was seeing to the happiness of 6,322 passengers and 2,200-plus crew. Over the course of a week, I had my hands in every department, from ship activities and entertainment to onboard revenue, making sure that everyone and everything worked in, well, harmony. From stocking the world’s biggest buffet and staving off gastrointestinal disasters to hosting celebrity guests, everything is 10 times crazier when you’re mayor of a city that’s floating in the middle of the sea. 

There Is Secret Cruise Code Language

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

It’s crucial for the staff to have code words so that passengers don’t get freaked out if something goes wrong. A “30-30” means the crew is asking maintenance to clean up a mess; three times during my stint I called in a “PVI” (public vomiting incident). An “Alpha” is a medical emergency, a “Bravo” is a fire, and “Kilo” is a request for all personnel to report to their emergency posts, which happens in the event of, say, a necessary evacuation. Be wary of “Echo,” which is called if the ship is starting to drift, or “Oscar,” which means someone’s gone overboard. A crew member told me he’s had only four or five “Oscars” in 10 years of cruising.

Drunk Guests Can't Outsmart the On-Board Bartenders

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

If you thought those all-you-can-drink beverage packages were directly correlated with drunk debauchery at sea, think again. Only eight to 10 percent of passengers purchase unlimited booze packages—Royal Caribbean’s guests are largely family travelers—and those who do are carefully monitored. Every single alcoholic beverage is poured with a jigger. Intoxicated passengers can have their SeaPasses (onboard credit cards) temporarily disabled, barring them from being served at any of the ship’s bars. As for the most popular alcoholic beverage ordered on board? It’s a cinnamon fireball shot.

According to Ivan De La Rosa, the ship’s senior doctor, the biggest issue involving alcohol is when the ship is docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Mix an afternoon of unregulated drinking on land at Señor Frogs with tropical heat and a few glasses of Mexican tap water, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed “PVI.”

Cruise Staffers Regularly Engage in Subliminal Messaging

The first thing guests likely see in their cabins is a gleeful jingle about hand-washing looping on their television screen. It’s catchy as a Katy Perry song and meant to steer you toward Purel pumps around the ship, each carefully positioned at high-traffic junctions (think entrances to the main dining halls and theaters) by senior staff. Along with the emcees’ banter at large group events—“Have you washed your hands 50 times today? I have!”—the jingle is part of the crew’s unwavering effort to stave off a potential Norovirus outbreak. 

But sanitation is just one aim of the frequent subliminal messaging. Special promotions around the ship encourage passengers to scatter when certain areas become congested, and moving guests around the ship subtly encourages them to diversify (and increase) their onboard spending. If casino revenue is low, for instance, senior management might host a raffle or karaoke event at the far side of the slots to drive foot traffic and encourage passengers to linger (or better yet, play) a while. Activities managers will even film their daily newscast about onboard events with Starbucks iced coffees in hand, as a quiet reminder that passengers can get their venti latte fix on Deck Six. Often times, these veiled announcements are aimed at boosting the ship’s bottom line.

There Is a Cruise Ship Burn Book 

Dru Pavlov, veteran cruise director and my mentor during this Royal Caribbean stint, keeps a hallowed book of stupid comments and questions; passed down from one cruise director to the next as a right of passage, it makes great vamping material for event emcees. 

The book Pavlov bequeathed to me included such doozies as: “Where’s the elevator to get to the front of the ship?” Others include “Is the toilet water drinkable?” and “How long does it take the crew to get home every night?” My favorite contribution came three days into my tenure, when a passenger stopped me to complain that she could no longer find her cabin. The ship had been parked backwards, she claimed.

All Cruise Guests Basically Eat the Same Things

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

Freezers on board are the size of New York studio apartments—and stocking them is an art form. Before each sailing, the inventory team receives enough ingredients for 20 different dining venues, plus servings for the 2,000-member crew. (The total cost, including such other consumables as paper towels, is about $800,000.) Overestimate the order, and the voyage becomes less-profitable (and wasteful); underestimate, and you’ll risk a riot over coconut shrimp. 

Luckily, passengers’ eating habits are fairly predictable. On the average week-long cruise, Royal Caribbean estimates its guests will be 80 percent American, consuming around 3,000 bottles of wine, 7,000 pounds of chicken breast, and almost 100,000 eggs. 

If more than 80 percent of the guests are American, the crew orders extra ketchup. When the percentage of Chinese passengers increases, they bump up the supply of sliced fruit, seafood, and rice. Latin Americans consume more red meat and Coronas (which also requires additional limes). And family-prone Spring Break cruises require three times as many chicken nuggets. The one thing that never changes no matter who is on board? Toilet paper. Around 9,600 rolls are used each week.  

Every Ship Has an "Outbreak Prevention Plan," With a Hair Trigger

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

Nothing is scarier to cruisers than a Norovirus outbreak—which ship doctor De La Rosa says is almost always caused by a passenger who has brought the illness aboard, rather than poor sanitary conditions on the ship.

The U.S. Health Department requires that every ship maintain a detailed OPP, or Outbreak Prevention Plan. On , regular sanitary conditions are called “OPP1,” and they get ratcheted up to “OPP2” when there’s a “6 in 6,” or six passengers reported ill in six hours. (You’ll know OPP2 is in full gear when the crew gets less subliminal about its “wash your hands” messaging.) 

If the incidence rate escalates and the situation reaches OPP3, guests lose the ability to handle their own food. The entire crew, from the ice dancers to the synchronized swimmers, is recruited to the buffets to help serve, and all restaurants and guestroom linens are put in red biohazard bags and obsessively laundered in a special facility on land.

If you want to avoid Norovirus like, well, the plague, stay away from short sailings, says figure skater and veteran crew member Chris Mabee. “Those trips tend to be the least-expensive, attracting both older passengers, who are prone to getting sick, and the young booze cruisers, who forget about hygiene.”  

As for the most common diagnoses at sea? They include upper respiratory infections, bruised bones, and the odd Viagra mishap. UTIs are also frequent, thanks to frisky honeymooners, and prescribing antibiotics can be hairy when passengers are committed to their all-you-can-drink packages.

Crew Members Are Trained to Deal with Handsy Passengers …

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

Sleeping with a passenger will get you “chicken or beef,” as Pavlov puts it—“That’s what a flight attendant asks you when you’re put on the first flight home.” 

The zero-tolerance policy seems to be an industry-wide standard—at Royal Caribbean, there’s even staff training on how to defuse an escalating situation. More often than not, it’s a vacationing guest trying to seduce a crew member. “Whenever I take photos with people, I always give a thumbs up,” notes Pavlov. “My hands are visible, so no one can claim any inappropriate behavior.” And with cameras covering virtually every nook and cranny of the ship, it’d be easier to rob a bank than take a bite of some forbidden fruit. (Though some crew members still use Grindr or Tinder to get a sense of who’s on board.)

… but the Staff Quarters Are a Genuine Love Boat 

With 2,200 crew, the staff quarters are a village unto themselves, with cabins, bars, a mess hall, shop, and gym set across decks 0, 1, 2, 3, and 12. (Most services are set off a second-deck corridor dubbed “I-95.”)

Among the crew, dating is not just allowed but tacitly encouraged—they live onboard through the entirety of their contract without days off, often 10 months a year. They have their own calendar of daily events that range from karaoke sessions to poker games and foreign language classes. And since Wi-Fi is pricey, romance is very much analog.

Coupling up on the ship is like dating in dog years: Things move about seven times faster. Several crew members recounted instances when they put in a request to share a cabin with their new boyfriend after only a month of dating, or dropped the “I love you” bomb within the first week of meeting someone. And since relationships often end once one person leaves the ship, cruise couples tend to become “lifers.” (Almost everyone I met in upper management met their spouse onboard.) 

The Ship Has Genies, and They Can Perform Magic 

Although bargain-basement discounts draw plenty of travelers to big-ship cruising, procuring Royal Caribbean’s VIP status can offer a true luxury experience. The easiest way to get it is by booking into the Royal Suites Star Class; the company’s crème de la crème offering includes 10 state-of-the-art apartments on with privileged access to pleb-free parts of the ship and butler-style service from a coterie of “Royal Genies.”

The Genies are trained to cater to your every whim, but with limited resources at sea, this can require real creativity. Daniel, one of the genies, once had a couple ask for their suite to be filled with flowers. Unable to secure real bouquets, he had the pastry team bake dozens of petal-shaped cookies and scattered them around the room. And when one family got locked out of a peak-season December sailing, genie Andrei surprised them with an early Christmas by decorating their suite and putting wrapped presents under a makeshift tree.

“The hardest thing to do is host a celebrity on board,” says Andrei, who has served a slew of A-listers and their families, including Kelsey Grammer, Adam Sandler, and Seth Rogen. To give them privacy amid thousands of cruisers, he says, “We usher them into shows after the lights go dark, and we grab them to leave five minutes before the show is done.” 

No matter how you earn your VIP status—or if you’ve earned it at all—my time on board proved that the crew will always bend over backwards to make sure you leave satisfied. Want to thank them? Tipping is great, but comment cards that explicitly name standout crew members make more of a difference. Your praise gets noted on their permanent record, earns them such onboard perks as free Wi-Fi, and helps secure promotions down the road.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-31/secrets-of-cruise-ships-from-crew-codes-to-sex-to-norovirus

    TripAdvisor apologizes for deleting warnings of rape

    Kristie Love's TripAdvisor review on her vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico was deleted.
    Image: Darren Carroll/Getty ImageS

    TripAdvisor has apologized to a sexual assault survivor after an investigation revealed the website had deleted posts alleging assaults at resorts in Mexico. The belated apology comes seven years after the attack.

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shared the story of Kristie Love, who had posted on TripAdvisor about her rape at an Iberostar resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Love said she had her post removed several times. 

    “Since 2010, when the forum post was removed, our policies and processes have evolved to better provide information like this to other travelers. As a result, when recently brought to our attention, the victim’s initial forum post was republished by our staff,” TripAdvisor wrote in a statement. 

    But it wasn’t just Love. The several-month-long investigation revealed more than a dozen travelers had their posts on TripAdvisor removed for similar reasons. In fact, three people reported being sexually assaulted or raped at the same resort in Mexico and subsequently had their TripAdvisor posts deleted. 

    The problem stems from TripAdvisor’s content moderation. Other crowdsourced review sites like Yelp and social networks like Facebook and Twitter face similar problems with deciding what violates their policies. Mistakes are frequently made. TripAdvisor also tries to manage any hearsay, but the policy appears to inconsistently enforced. 

    “To me, it’s like censoring,” Wendy Avery-Swanson told the Journal Sentinel. She had a post about her blacking out from alcohol served at a swim-up bar removed.

    TripAdvisor provided several different reasons at the time for why their reviews were removed. One instance claimed the post contained language or was about a topic that was not “family friendly.” 

    According to TripAdvisor, the site does allow for negative reviews and stories like Love’s and Avery-Swanson’s. Specifically, its interpretation of the family-friendly guidelines has changed since Love’s review was removed in 2010. 

    “We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far.”

    “At the time, we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family friendly language. More than 7 years ago that meant all language needed to be G-rated. … We recognized then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable in an email.

    “A simple search of TripAdvisor will show numerous reviews from travelers over the last several years who wrote about their first-hand experiences that include matters of robbery or theft, assault and rape,” the spokesperson continued. 

    It’s worth noting that TripAdvisor’s business model in part relies on users booking through its website. TripAdvisor denied any link between how its content guidelines are applied and its commercial relationships.

    TripAdvisor boasts more than 535 million reviews on hotel, airlines, restaurants, and local attractions. Unlike other companies that help with direct booking like Airbnb, airlines, and hotels, TripAdvisor doesn’t verify that reviews or forum posts are written by people who actually experienced what they wrote about.

    The tech company follows its own publishing guidelines and employs about 300 people to moderate posts and ensure “content integrity,” a spokesperson told the Journal Sentinel. TripAdvisor also relies on software to detect fake reviews. 

    The alleged censorship may fall outside of TripAdvisor’s offices, however. As the Journal Sentinel notes, TripAdvisor allows non-employees known as “trusted community members” to remove posts. The company declined to disclose who they are or how they are chosen but said they are “trusted, highly rated users and volunteers drawn from the global travel community.”  

    TripAdvisor added that these privileges can be removed if a member is “overly promoting” their businesses. These volunteers are unable to remove reviews but do moderate forum posts. 

    After the Journal Sentinel report, TripAdvisor said it is making changes. For example, Love’s post has been reinstated. The site is also creating a “badge” notification that will alert users to health, safety, and discrimination issues. This designation will be based on media reports and other credible sources, TripAdvisor said.

    “We’re currently going through additional quality assurance testing, and expect it to be launched before the end of the year,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson told Mashable

    This post was updated with additional insight from TripAdvisor.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/02/tripadvisor-deleted-warnings-rapes-mexico-resorts-journal-sentinel/