The Real Deal New York

De Blasio chides Airbnb over alleged data purge

Mayor "very troubled" by short term rental giant's possible chicanery

February 17, 2016 12:02PM

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a chart allegedly showing Airbnb's data purge (Credit: Murray Cox and Tom Slee)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a chart allegedly showing Airbnb’s data purge (Credit: Murray Cox and Tom Slee)

Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned Airbnb’s alleged purge of over 1,000 controversial listings prior to its much-ballyhooed data release late last year.

“I’m very troubled by this,” the mayor said at an unrelated press conference, Politico reported.

“We certainly want to work with the sharing economy and I appreciate what’s good about the sharing economy, but if these reports are true and Airbnb is purposely withholding information and, in fact, providing misinformation, that’s unacceptable. We will not tolerate that,” De Blasio said.

Independant data analysts Murray Cox – who runs Inside Airbnb – and Tom Slee accused the short-term rental giant of removing a large number of “multi-listings” – whole units listed by hosts who list multiple whole units – from its site just before its December data release, based on a review of scraped data from Airbnb’s site.

Removing those listings would have skewed the picture the company was presenting of its service, scrubbing it of Airbnb users’ most controversial practices.

Airbnb has fervently denied Cox and Slee’s accusation, saying any removed listings were part of regular maintenance, and insisting the picture presented in December accurately reflects reality.

The practice of multi-listing by “hosts” has been criticized by affordable housing advocates and city officials, who say the lessors are, in practice, running illegal hotels that remove units from the city’s rental market.

Back in October, The Real Deal attempted to gauge the impact of such “commercial” listings on rents in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint. [Politico] – Ariel Stulberg