Chinese travel website Mafengwo denied that it posted fake reviews on its site after a social media report accused it of copying review content from competitors and fabricating as much as 85 percent of the reviews on its platform.
The company said in a statement on its Sina Weibo account on Monday that reviews of restaurants and eateries made up less than 3 percent of the user-generated content on the Mafengwo platform, which includes travel itineraries, diary entries and photo sharing.
"The number of accounts suspected of false reviews accounted for a very small proportion of overall users, and Mafengwo has removed such accounts. The number of fake users mentioned in the media report is seriously inconsistent with facts and third-party statistics," the company said.
Established in 2006, the Beijing-based company claims to cover more than 200 countries and regions, 100 million travelers and 920,000 hotels around the world. It said it has more than 21 million original reviews.
On Saturday, a social media account on WeChat, "Xiaosheng Bibi", co-reported with data group Hooray Data, accusing the company of using bots and hiring writers to fake more than 18 million user comments and blog articles of the total 21 million original content pieces the company says it owns.
"Mafengwo's plagiarizing is worse than we imagined," Xiaosheng Bibi said in the report.
"We set up a very strict standard for our data analysis. In terms of content, copying the exact same words would be called plagiarizing. And the accounts, which copy over 150 comments, would be considered fake user accounts."
The report said 7,454 fake user accounts were found copying and transferring content from rivals, including Ctrip, eLong, Meituan-Dianping, Agoda and Yelp.
The total amount of copied data included 5.72 million comments and blog articles on restaurants and bars, and 12.2 million comments and stories about hotels - altogether representing around 85 percent of all comments Mafengwo shows on its platform.
Mafengwo said that the company removes 26,000 posts each week for violating its terms and conditions and has closed down 15,000 accounts.
"The media attributed the illegal behavior of unscrupulous merchants to Mafengwo, which is seriously inconsistent with the facts," it said in the statement.
The media report was an "organized attack", and the company will legally defend its interests, the company said.