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Some Airbnb Hosts Are Secretly Recording Guests

By Victoria M. Walker

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Max Vest, a children’s camp director, booked an AirBnB in Miami in January through a host named Ralph. Although Ralph had gone by “Ray” in prior communication, the host had a good rating so Vest wasn’t too concerned.

But Vest told The Atlantic in an interview that he immediately noticed something was amiss upon returning back to the apartment. As he was getting ready for bed, he told The Atlantic that cameras were recording in his room.

“I didn’t know if I was being watched live,” Vest said.

After the incident, he was refunded and placed in a hotel for the night by Airbnb. He said he hired a lawyer and is considering a civil suit against Airbnb, which he called “a criminal act.”

“Ralph’s” listing was removed, but Vest said that the action doesn’t go far enough.

“When something like this happens, they need to really be serious about the consequences,” said Vest.

Vest is not the only Airbnb guest who said they were recorded and then not helped by Airbnb, according to the Atlantic report. Four Airbnb users told the Atlantic they had similar issues.

“If you find a truly hidden camera in your bedroom or bathroom, Airbnb will support you,” wrote Jeff Bigham in a blog post. “If you find an undisclosed camera in the private living room, Airbnb will not support you.”

Bigham’s post about discovering a camera in his Airbnb went viral in January. Bigham reached out to Airbnb who at first brushed off his complaint but later refunded him, he claims.

According to Airbnb’s rules, recording of bedrooms and bathrooms is prohibited. A host who has any type of surveillance in or around a listing must inform guests. Those rules must disclose if an active recording is taking place.

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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