Nealie and Andrew Barker from Auckland, New Zealand stopped in Cork, Ireland last month during their 14-month trip across Europe. After unpacking, Mr Barker, who works in IT security, scanned the house’s Wi-Fi network and discovered a live video feed. From the angle of the video he tracked down the camera which was concealed within a contraption on the ceiling that looked like a smoke detector, but a real smoke detector was just a few feet away.
After that they called Airbnb to report the camera, Mrs Barker said “They had no advice for us over the phone. The girl just said that if you cancel within 14 days, you won’t get your money back.” Then they called the owner of the property who refused to confirm whether he was recording the livestream or capturing audio. The family relocated to a hotel and called Airbnb again until their trust and safety team promised to undertake an investigation, and in the meantime the listing was temporarily suspended.
Later, Airbnb, did not contact the family so they had to reach back to them and learned that the listing was back online, when they decided to post about the incident on Facebook which was picked up by media outlets. Airbnb then stated:
“The safety and privacy of our community – both online and offline – is our priority. Airbnb policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras in listing and we take reports of any violations extremely seriously. We have permanently removed this bad actor from our platform. Our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves, and we have apologized to the family and fully refunded their stay. There have been over half a billion guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are incredibly rare.”