Controversy surrounding Airbnb is growing, with the room-sharing service reportedly demanding that some customers upload videos of themselves for verification before they can make bookings.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed an instance of an Australian woman trying to book a holiday to Europe, who was rejected by the service after she declined Airbnb’s request to upload a video. The woman felt uncomfortable giving Airbnb access to her Facebook timeline, birthday, location and other details.
The paper quoted an Airbnb executive saying that extra verification requirements had been added to prevent criticism that people’s personal security might be placed at risk.
“We’ve received extremely positive feedback from our community,” the executive said.
The news comes after the Weekend Australian reported that a Melbourne IT specialist reportedly lost AUD 9000 over the fake listing of a Hawaiian villa.
The seven-bedroom Honolulu villa was apparently listed as available to rent for AUD 1200 a night, with potential customers advised to contact “Emma”.
The alleged sting outlined by the Weekend Australian involved someone responding to the inquiry by emailing the inquirer an interactive replica of Airbnb’s booking pages, which led to a website which turned out to be false.
In another case, the paper said former AFL star Leigh Colbert had paid AUD 8000 earlier this year to stay in a Monaco villa, only to find he had paid a hacker who did not own the property.
An unnamed Melbourne barrister told the paper that an apartment host in London had accepted his booking, then demanded an extra AUD 1000 at the last minute to hold it. When the lawyer refused to pay, Airbnb reportedly let the London host cancel the reservation.
Airbnb Australia spokesman Dylan Smith told The Weekend Australian that incidences of fraud were “extremely rare”. He stressed the importance of keeping bookings strictly on the Airbnb platform.
Written by Peter Needham