Update: Police Find That There Were No Cameras Installed in Airbnb After Renter Claimed Home Was Littered With Hidden Cameras in 'Creepy' Video
'Some were disguised as sprinkler systems but it has a camera lens.'
Update 6/14: An Airbnb spokesperson has confirmed with Entrepreneur that no cameras were found amid a police investigation and that the case has been closed.
"We thoroughly looked into this allegation as we do for all safety reports. Today, we spoke directly with the lead detective from the Philadelphia Police Department who responded to the complaint and investigated the property," Airbnb told Entrepreneur. "He confirmed that he did not find any hidden or undisclosed cameras and that the fire sprinklers had regular sprinklerheads. The detective also confirmed that they plan to close this case."
Airbnb will still issue a full refund for the renter as well as provide her with support moving forward.
Companies like Airbnb are a popular (and at times, more affordable) option for travelers hoping to get a more authentic experience when traveling. But since individual homeowners are still the ones renting out the majority of listings, the company has not escaped negative reports about safety and sanitation.
On Sunday, a Twitter user claimed they discovered hidden cameras throughout a property they were renting for a girl's trip.
In a series of tweets, Twitter user @foxytaughtyou claimed that an Airbnb she allegedly rented in Philadelphia had over 10 cameras spread throughout the house, including in shower heads and some even disguised as sprinkler systems.
"We noticed these 'sprinklers' CAMERAS were placed in spots to get a perfect view of people," she wrote. "I was naked and had to change in this room."
The user also alleged that the Airbnb was listed under a business name and that she never met nor spoke to the actual owner, claiming phone calls went unanswered and all communication was through messages on the app.
We noticed these "sprinklers" CAMERAS were placed in spots to get a perfect view of people. Luckily it was a girls trip so I wasn't having intercourse… but I was naked and had to change in this room pic.twitter.com/9SHPLUEpkg— (@foxytaughtyou) June 12, 2022
She also said that police had been contacted and that Airbnb simply moved her group to a new listing.
"We reported this to [Airbnb] and to the police station Friday noon and still have not had a[n] update on this case," she wrote on Twitter. "We have no idea what footage this owner has and what he is doing with it!!!"
The renter also included a video that showed the alleged cameras around the house, including the first one she said she noticed on the ceiling after she and her friends fell asleep on the couch after a night out.
Airbnb has confirmed that the Twitter user was an Airbnb customer and that action has been taken to both assist her as well as reprimand the Airbnb host that she rented from.
"Our policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras and we take forceful action in the exceptionally rare circumstances where this has been reported, including assisting law enforcement to help them hold criminals accountable," an Airbnb spokesperson told Entrepreneur. "In this case, our Safety team has suspended this Host and removed this listing from our platform while we thoroughly investigate this report. We are also providing support to our guest, including a full refund. More information on our security camera policy -- including the ban on hidden cameras as well as bans on recording devices in bedrooms, bathrooms or sleeping areas -- can be found here."
Combined, @foxytaughtyou's series of Tweets have received over 161,460 likes and tens of thousands of comments from other Twitter users who were equally as confused as they were disturbed.
"This is so creepy," one user wrote next to a scared face emoji.
"Having cameras in the bedrooms and bathrooms are weird and creepy as all hell," another lamented.
Airbnb's customer service account, @AirbnbHelp, reached out to the renter via Twitter, following up after her thread began to go viral.
"We'd like to reiterate our willingness to help," the company said. "Please send us the email address linked to your Airbnb account via DM so that our team can follow up. Thank you."
Airbnb's policy, per the company's website, strictly states that cameras are not permitted in bedrooms or bathrooms.
"Devices should never monitor private spaces (ex: bedrooms, bathrooms, or common areas that are being used as sleeping areas, like a living room with a sofa bed)," the company's policy maintains. "Disconnected devices are allowed as long as they are turned off and proactively disclosed to guests."
The company also requires hosts to disclose whether or not there are security cameras in any outdoor areas or common spaces and that it must always be disclosed if any active recording is taking place.
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