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Is Airbnb a privacy concern?

David Wilson - Feb 24, 2015

A story has been making the rounds in the general press stating that Airbnb has been requesting users to submit videos of themselves as a form of verification process before booking accommodation.

On the surface it seems rather unnecessary and yet at the same time seems to fall into the same camp of sites accessing your email and social media pages (something that was big deal when it first occurred, and which many of us don’t flinch at today).

So let’s throw the headline out the window and look at the privacy concerns. Technically Airbnb does have the right to ask for this information as long as it is clearly stated in their privacy policy and does not breach any laws. It is simply a condition of using their services, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.

The issue for consumers is that they may like the service, but aren’t sure how the collection of their personal data can be ‘used for marketing purposes’, as outlined in Airbnb’s privacy policy.

And this is where personal decision making comes in. You can disregard the slippery slope vision of your face being plastered on a billboard, as this won’t be Airbnb’s intent. In the peer-to-peer sharing economy, what they are truly after is your family and friends. And if you’re happy to have your affinity for Airbnb showcased to your loved ones, then it’s mission accomplished.

All said and done, articles such as this are important for starting conversations about privacy as well as tracking the level of personal information that companies such as Airbnb are collecting and using. The important thing to remember is that by using a service such as Airbnb, users are inferring consent inline with their privacy policy, even if they don’t read it.

Perhaps this will encourage visitors to closely examine a website’s privacy policy?

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