Jeffrey P. Bigham
Imagine you’re looking for a home on AirBnB. You’re doing your due diligence, reading the description of the home, and looking through the pictures. One of the 20 or so photos on the listing is the following -- now that I’ve focused you on a particular photo, look at it in detail, see anything concerning?
If you look super carefully, you’ll see a little white blob up in the corner near the ceiling. Is that some sort of a weird light? Is it some sort of crown molding, or maybe some sort of smoke detector? If you read the title of this article, then you’ll have correctly guessed that it is in fact a camera!
I looked at the home guide again, and it did say that there were cameras “at the entrance,” which these cameras clearly were not. I contacted AirBnB about it, and long story short they said
Well dearest host, it is not my responsibility to tell you what I was doing. But, to ease your mind, I’ll tell you we were doing one of two things -- either we were having a drug and sex party
What was I trying to hide on New Year’s Eve… indeed.
I’m not sure what to take from this, but it’s scary! There have been super terrible examples of privacy violations by AirBnB hosts, e.g., people have found cameras hidden in alarm clocks
If I ever really have to stay in an AirBnB again, I guess I’ll be taking a much closer look at all the photos, or maybe just explicitly ask my host to confirm there are no cameras inside the home.
I’ll end this article with a photo my host sent after our stay to support his false claim that we had been “super messy”. It shows someone holding up a sheet that I think is supposed to be “dirty” flipping us off… I’m sure this was an accident
Thanks to Casey Fiesler and Eric March who gave comments on the super-long original version of this post. Thanks to my AirBnB host for making this post possible. And, thanks to AirBnB for being so straightforwardly dismissive of my obvious privacy concerns as to make me angry enough to write all this up.
 I’m not nearly cool enough to describe something nefarious in a believable way, but I’m pretty sure my host isn’t either and probably would believe something as weird and vague as this.
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Blog posts are not intended to be final products, but rather a reflection of current thinking and/or catalysts for discussion, like tweets but longer.