Airbnb apologises to family who were live streamed by hidden camera in Cork property

Airbnb apologises to family who were live streamed by hidden camera in Cork property
Nealie Barker, husband Andrew and their five children after discovering the recording device. Picture: Facebook.

Airbnb has apologised to a family who discovered they were being livestreamed by a hidden camera at their accommodation in Cork.

New Zealanders Nealie Barker, husband Andrew, and their five children were staying in an Airbnb in Cork when Andrew, an IT consultant, tried to connect to his phone to the wifi when he noticed a device called 'IP camera'.

Avid Airbnb users, Mrs Barker asked people on Facebook to share their story widely: "We just found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm case in the private living room of a listing. We were travelling with children.

"The host admitted to the concealed camera over the phone, only after presented with our irrefutable proof.

Picture: Facebook.
Picture: Facebook.

"The Airbnb safety team investigated our complaint (we provided photos and snapshot of video feed). Their "thorough" investigation which didn't include any follow-up with us exonerated the host, no explanation provided. The listing (with hidden camera not mentioned) is still on Airbnb.

"The host is now claiming our accusation is false on the public platform."

The website has since permanently removed the home from its site after initially allowing the host back online and has refunded the family's stay.

According to New Zealand publication Stuff, when Andrew scanned the device's ports, he found the live video feed and the family could see themselves on his mobile device.

The camera had a view of the lounge, dining and kitchen according to Mrs Barker.

Mrs Baker told Stuff that she felt immediately protective of her children and they moved out of the premises to stay at another hotel.

She told Stuff: "There is no way to know whether the camera was recording. We asked the host but he refused to answer. We also asked if it was recording audio, again he refused to answer."

When her husband said they could see themselves on the camera, the host "became flustered and hung up".

"He later called back and admitted there was only one hidden camera and that he had installed it to 'protect his asset'."

Airbnb has strict policies governing the use of cameras in listings, and the use of cameras are not allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms or to be hidden.

Hosts are required by Airbnb to fully disclose any cameras not in private or sensitive areas, for example security cameras, before a reservation.

Airbnb said they have a zero tolerance stance when it comes to violations and that they immediately remove anyone who violates the policy:

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. "

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