A family from New Zealand traveling to Ireland for vacation made a discovery straight out of the beginning to a horror film as they discovered that the Airbnb they were renting was riddled with hidden cameras.
According to a report from CNN, Andrew Barker, the father of the family, made the terrifying discovery as he was searching for the home’s wifi. The camera, which was live-streaming all the activity in the living room, was disguised to look like a common smoke alarm. Concerned for the privacy and safety of the family, Andrew’s wife called Airbnb to alert them to the camera, but all
she was told was that if they canceled within fourteen days, they wouldn’t get a refund. No concern over the family’s safety or privacy was made by the Airbnb service representative.
Andrew confronted the homeowner over the phone, but all the homeowner would state was that the camera in the living room was the only one in the home. The family quickly packed and went
to stay at a local hotel and later, the Airbnb Trust and Safety unlisted the home as they began their investigation.
Weeks after the incident, Airbnb called the Barkers back telling them to their dismay, the homeowner had not broken their terms of services and his home was put back on the Airbnb
listing for the area.
According to a statement provided from Airbnb to CNN:
“The safety and privacy of our community — both online and offline — is our priority. Airbnb policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras in listings 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.”
Despite the disturbing circumstance in Ireland, the Barkers still use Airbnb to stay when they travel but are far “more cautious” after that experience. This incident of a hidden camera isn’t
unique to the Barkers, however, a visitor to an Airbnb in Miami had a similar incident, and because of both stories more and more people are coming out about their own experiences with
hidden cameras, which should only cause more issues for the Trust and Safety team in the future as they begin to lose consumer trust.