Airbnb is accused of dirty business to clean up a recent data dump the company released in December. Two hawk-eyed researchers found that Airbnb removed rentals, as many as 1,000 of them, from its service just before it published the report.

Doing so allowed it to present data in its own favor, showing authorities in New York City that it has fewer listings than were actually present. That would have helped to appease New York City authorities who, according to Re/code, have been worried about “an oversupply of entire-unit Airbnb listings” that could harm full-time housing options for city dwellers. Some have dubbed the company’s operations with multi-listing hosts as “illegal hotels.”


“Airbnb’s rosy projections about the future of its business were not objective analyses based on historical trends,” InsideAirbnb’s Murray Cox and Tom Slee, the researchers who discovered the shady actions, explained. “The company extrapolated from an artificial and unrepresentative one-time event. In the days leading up to November 17, Airbnb ensured a favorable picture by carrying out a one-time targeted purge of over 1,000 listings. The company then misrepresented November 17 as a typical day in the company’s operations.”

Cox and Slee said this was a “PR effort” on behalf of Airbnb and said it only took place in NYC, where Airbnb is trying to look favorable. “Airbnb did not kick illegal hosts off the site; many commercial hosts still have listings on the site, but the purge made them appear, briefly, to be single-listing hosts.”.

Airbnb sees things differently.

“The facts are clear for all to see – the vast majority of our hosts are everyday people who have just one listing and share their space a few nights a month to help make ends meet,” Airbnb explained. “Airbnb is an open people-to-people platform where listings come on and go off throughout the year.”

Cox and Slee aren’t convinced and argued, in a statement to Re/code that Airbnb is creating its own data “to conceal illegal activity.”