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Almost 1m Tripadvisor reviews in 2020 found to be fraudulent

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Tripadvisor

Almost 1m Tripadvisor reviews in 2020 found to be fraudulent

Almost 1m reviews submitted for inclusion on Tripadvisor – equivalent to 3.6% of the total – were determined to be fraudulent by the website last year.

In its second transparency report – the first was released in 2019 – the travel guidance platform said 67.1% of the fake reviews had been caught before making it on to the platform by its pre-posting moderation algorithm.

In 2019, Tripadvisor rejected as “simplistic” analysis by consumer group Which? of 250,000 hotel reviews on its site, which found one in seven had “blatant hallmarks” of being fake.

The report, published on Wednesday, also provided details on paid reviews, the phenomenon that has grown out of businesses desire to boost their rankings with positive reviews and accrue the benefits of a high Tripadvisor rating.

The company said it removed paid reviews from 131 countries last year, including “a spike” in such reviews originating in India – but not necessarily for businesses in the country. As a result, India topped the list of countries from which the most paid reviews emanated last year, with Russia dropping out of the Top 10. Further, the company said its fraud investigators identified 65 new paid review sites and blocked submissions from a total of 372 different paid review sites last year.

The report said: “While our overall review contributions dropped in line with the slowdown in travel, fraudulent submissions – which of course are not predicated on real customer experiences – did not follow the same trend. Our team remained vigilant and effective at catching would-be fraudsters, and as a result the proportion of reviews we rejected or removed increased compared with pre-pandemic 2018 figures.”

While they may pose the biggest threat to the platform’s integrity and those of the businesses on it, fake reviews are not alone in being removed. In total, more than 2m review submissions (representing 8.6% the total) were rejected or removed from the Tripadvisor platform, for instance because they included use of profanity.

While travel restrictions imposed by Covid led to a reduction in submitted reviews – the number in August last year (approximately 4m) was half that in August 2018 – the virus also posed other challenges, which Tripadvisor said led to its team manually assessing an additional 257,022 reviews, of which 46,145 were removed by moderators for violating posting guidelines.

They included reviews containing encouragement to ignore government guidelines, discouraging testing or spreading misinformation, with racially insensitive comments including references to the “China” or “Wuhan” virus or criticising a business for introducing Covid safety measures.

In total, Tripadvisor penalised 34,605 properties for fraudulent activity and banned 20,299 members for failing to abide by the platform’s community standards last year.

Travellers submitted more than 26m reviews in total last year, more than 8m for hotels, more than 12m for restaurants, and more than 4m for experiences, attractions, and activities. Over half (54.1%) of submissions related to customer experiences in Europe, with 23.5% relating to North America.

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Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

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Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

The Nigerian naira has dropped to N614 against the dollar at the parallel section of the foreign exchange market.

The figure signifies a depreciation of N7 or 1.2 percent compared to the N607 it traded last two weeks.

Bureaux De Change operators (BDCs), popularly known as ‘abokis’, who spoke to TheCable in Lagos on Tuesday, said they purchase the greenback at N608/$, make a gain of N6, and then sell at N614.

At the official market, the naira also depreciated by 0.21 percent to close at N421/$ on Monday, according to information obtained from FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange — a platform that oversees official foreign-exchange trading.

Nigeria operates multiple exchange rate windows ranging from the importers and exporters window (I&E) window, where forex is traded between exporters, investors, and purchasers of forex, the SMEIS window where forex is sold to importers, and others.

International organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have constantly advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unify the official and parallel market exchange rates.

But Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, had said that despite advice offered by IMF and the World Bank, developing economies such as Nigeria had the liberty of adopting “homegrown solutions to their economic problems.

According to him, the managed floating exchange rate, which allows the CBN to intervene in the market when there is a supply shock, would be in place as long as supply exceeds demand.

“They want us to free the exchange rate. And you do know that this has some impacts on the exchange rate itself,” he had said.

“When you allow that to happen, you will have an uncontrollable spiral on the naira.

“But what managed float means is that we have some measures in place to help control the spiral.”

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FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

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FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

These are challenging times for the federal and state governments as one major source of income to the federation account seems to be totally cut off.

On Monday, The National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) revealed it failed to remit monies to the federation account in May 2022 despite making N470.61 billion.

This is the fifth straight month NNPC has failed to credit the federal account while exporting crude at an average price of $100 per barrel.

Details of the June FAAC report obtained by The Harmattan News showed NNPC since the start of the year made N1.897 trillion, over N234.1 billion more than the expected revenue.

Sadly, however, NNPC said all the revenue had gone into various expenditure which includes petrol subsidy, oil search, Pipeline Security & Maintenance cost, National Domestic Gas Development and Nigeria Morocco Pipeline cost among others.

As expected, the bulk of the expenditure, N1.27 trillion, went toward recovery (also known as petrol subsidy).

In fact, NNPC said it has budgeted another N617 billion for petrol subsidy in June.

The report reads: “The Value Shortfall on the importation of PMS recovered from May 2022 proceeds is N327,065,907,048.06 while the outstanding balance carried forward is N617bn .”

“The estimated Value Shortfall of N845,152,863,012.97bn (consisting of arrears of N617bn plus estimated May 2022

Value Short Fall of N227,721,200,478.23) is to be recovered from June 2022 proceed due for sharing at the July 2022 FAAC Meeting,” it added.

The development means states have a tough road ahead and will have to look inwards to cover for the drop in federal allocations.

Already, some states have announced plans to slash workers’ salaries over dwindling income.

Kano Sate has already announced plans to slash workers’ salaries, following in the foot steps of the Ekiti State government that announced civil servants’ and political appointees’ salaries will be slashed in response to the present economic reality in the country.

Ekiti went further to suspend minimum wage implementation with no date of resumptions.

The Harmattan News had recently reported that pension contribution from governments dropped to a 16-year low in the first quarter of 2022.

From recent developments, it is more likely the figure will tank further.

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Nigerian govt to auction N225bn bond as search for funds continues

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Nigerian govt to auction N225bn bond as search for funds continues

Federal government bonds worth N225 billion would be auctioned today, Monday, June 20, 2022, by the Debt Management Office (DMO) at the primary market.

The debt instrument is being sold by the central government to raise funds to finance the 2022 budget deficit and in today’s exercise, the DMO is offering the notes in three tenors.

The debt office is anticipated to sell the FGN bonds at double digits to make the asset class more attractive to investors.

In a circular published on its website and obtained by The Harmattan News, all three maturities are re-opening, meaning they are from the previously sold bonds.

The circular noted that N75 billion worth of a 10-year bond with maturity in 2025 would be offered for sale at the auction. Another N75 billion worth of a 10-year note maturing in 2032 is up for grabs and N75 billion worth of a 20-year instrument with maturity in 2042 would be sold.

Intending subscribers would be expected to reach out to primary dealer market makers to buy the bonds for N1,000 per unit subject to a minimum subscription of N50 million and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter.

The interest would be paid by the government semi-annually, while the bullet repayment will be done on the maturity date.

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