Sit at their tables so you can share their tastes.
Sleep in their beds so you may know their dreams.
Airbnb’s recent ad campaign purports to explore the kindness of strangers but comes across as a little, well, unsettling.
Airbnb has defended its campaign: “Kindness is the foundation of our entire community—Airbnb hosts aren’t just sharing their homes, they’re sharing part of themselves. When guests open their doors, they’re opening their hearts and minds as well.”
In the words of Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky, “The breakthrough of Airbnb is that it does more than give you a place to sleep—it changes the way you experience the world because when we trust in the kindness of our fellow man, we discover that the world isn’t such a scary place after all.”
All this talk of kindness is enough to make you forget that Airbnb is also a successful venture capital-backed startup, valued at $25.5 billion and third to Uber and China’s Xiaomi Corp. Its ability to raise $1.5 billion in a private funding round last month was a feat that has been matched only by Uber, China’s Alibaba, and Facebook.
Airbnb’s website boasts more than 35 million guests and 1.2 million listings in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries worldwide. Airbnb is big and is only expected to get bigger, which is perhaps why the company has chosen to focus on kindness rather than the implications of having a significant portion of the world’s population on its platform.
“By using the Platform, you consent that Airbnb, in its sole discretion, may, either directly or through third party companies and individuals we engage to provide services to us, review, scan, analyze, and store your communications, whether done manually or through automated means.”
“We may also receive, store and process Log Data, which is information that is automatically recorded by our servers whenever you access or use the Platform, regardless of whether you are registered with Airbnb or logged in to your Airbnb account, such as your IP Address, the date and time you access or use the Platform, the hardware and software you are using, referring and exit pages and URLs, the number of clicks, pages viewed and the order of those pages, and the amount of time spent on particular pages.”
Facebook and Google are likely sharing and collecting your information as well: “We receive, store and process information that you make available to us when accessing or using our Platform and Services. Examples include when you link your account on a third party site (e.g. Facebook) to your Airbnb account, in which case we will obtain the Personal Information that you have provided to the third party site, to the extent allowed by your settings with the third party site and authorized by you.”
Airbnb is prepared to share your information with the government: “We will use commercially reasonable efforts to notify users about law enforcement requests for their data unless providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself, by court order we receive, or by applicable law; or based on information supplied by law enforcement, we, in our sole discretion, believe: (a) that providing notice could create a risk of injury or death to an individual or group of individuals, (b) that the case involves potential harm to minors, or (c) that harm or fraud could be directed to Airbnb, its Members, the Platform, or Services.”
Airbnb claims no responsibility for your privacy: “No method of transmission over the Internet, and no method of storing electronic information, can be 100% secure. So, we cannot guarantee the absolute security of your transmissions to us and of your Personal Information that we store.”