“I did not like the cattle”: the lack of control of Google in the reviews of hostess clubs
“I did not like the cattle, the youngest has already paid for a pension,” a user of Google Maps, the Google service that allows scoring and leaving reviews on all types of establishments, writes about a hostess club in Ciudad Real. “Much name, but low quality of the genre”, comments another about a place of this type in Burgos. “A lot of Romanian women clean purses and no hotties”, writes a user about a club in Lleida, of which another client affirms: “I don’t recommend it, we were 2 friends, the girls were few, the doorman was gypsy and borderline, half of the clients were Romanian that they looked at you badly ”. Among xenophobic and denigrating comments, others give details for connoisseurs: “The sluts are a bit expensive although the Colombian blowjob they dominate it perfectly.”
Anyone can add a location to Google Maps to post a review, although the owner can then add details confirming their identity. Google allows you to add hostess locations to your service as long as prostitution is legal in that country, although pimping is not legal in Spain and it is not a secret that many of these venues are practiced. But it is obvious that hundreds of the reviews published violate the company’s rules, which do not allow “posting dangerous or derogatory content” that, among other things, “incites hatred, promotes discrimination or disparages an individual or group based on their race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, gender identity or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination ”.
Google hides behind the enormous volume of content that it has to moderate. There are many reviews and “we continue looking for tools to improve” the results, they answer EL PAÍS. The company says it receives 20 million contributions a day, 7 billion in all of 2019. Of these, they deleted 75 million reviews that violated their policies and eliminated 75,000 user accounts. Google boasts that “the vast majority of contributions on Google Maps are authentic.” It is possible, but nobody really knows what percentage are false.
The ease of accessing these reviews on Google Maps makes their content easier to emerge, as was the case with this recent tweet that sparked this investigation.
To systematize the panorama, EL PAIS has consulted a specialized website that includes more than 1,500 stores of this type throughout Spain. We selected a sample of three categories with presence in streets, highways and other public places, and a more private one: from a total of 1,084 stores, we took a sample of 108 (33 clubs, 5 gay saunas, 26 massage places and 44 floors) . Of those 108 selected, in Maps there were reviews of about 50, half: 1,325 comments in total. Most of the floors were logically left out, but not all. If we are guided by these figures, in Spain there would be at least 500 stores of this type with reviews.
In Google Maps these businesses are indexed in Spain mainly under the headings of “adult entertainment club”, “hostess bar” or “night club”, which are often misleading. Google omits Maps searches for “sex in Zaragoza”, but it does allow “whores Valladolid”, or “prostitutes” or “fucking” in a city, although the results are not always accurate. Anyone can create a review of a venue just by knowing the address. In the United States there is not this level of comments, not even in Las Vegas, where the reviews refer to locals of striptease. In some countries of Latin America and the rest of Europe these types of reviews are found, but perhaps in a smaller proportion: “Old women are ugly”, according to a client in Bogotá (Colombia).
The role of Google is important because all users of the network practically use the search engine or its Maps service. But it is not the main or the only place on the Internet where the work of women who are engaged in prostitution is discussed: simple searches allow finding pages where thousands of users review their experience with women with the details that specialized motor magazines reserve to the driving and performance of a car.
Fake comments to attract visitors
In addition to the reviews with degrading content, there are many more that sound ridiculously false, apparently for the purpose of attracting visitors, although this happens in all types of establishments. Several users with their supposed face, names and two surnames praise places where “discretion prevails.” In many places the praise for the trajectory of the “manager” or the “doorman”, with very specific data from places where they have worked (“Christian, the former manager of Fire”), suggests that it is difficult for any user to dedicate themselves to explain all that.
In others, the sale looks like something out of a local brochure, with extraordinary praise and canny criticism of the competition. This review is posted by a user with a photo of their wedding day: “Luxury event, I don’t normally take the time to write reviews, but I had a very good experience at my bachelor party. It was a surprise and although my friends shared with me how many pool party venues and strip clubs they contacted only to be bombarded with excessive prices [Este local] He offered a proposal according to what I wanted, even including transportation for everyone, which was very timely because we are a fairly large group! good choice guys, thanks !!! ”. Just as there are high praises, there are criticisms that are probably made from the competition.
Other alleged users review dozens of places in various countries without the slightest relationship with tourism and travel. EL PAIS has spoken with one who years ago charged for reviews he made with his own account. The price is relatively high because it is not easy to automate: you have to create a Gmail account to be able to comment, which lengthens and complicates the process. “There are many pages like Microworkers, Rapidworkers that pay you to write reviews, in times of crisis people look for what they can. The payment depends on the task, a I like it or a subscribe on YouTube, 7 cents on the dollar. A well-written review can cost 30 cents which is a pretty penny in terms of microtasking. Fake reviews are a real problem, ”he explains in a LinkedIn message. Google does not index the names of the authors of these reviews in its search engine, so it is not easy to discover fake profiles without knowing which locals have commented.
Despite this panorama, many of the comments are from real users. Like this client of a club in Bogotá (Colombia) who opts for the euphemism: “A lot of variety, unfortunately the quality of the portfolio has lost.” There are even cases in which, perhaps due to neglect or ignorance, some sign the reviews with their name and two real surnames. EL PAÍS has located, for example, an official from an Extremadura town and a waiter from Teruel who recounted their experience by giving their real names, but who did not want to answer the questions for this report.
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