Airbnb recently made a big commitment to “being transparent” with regulators about data involving its home-rental service.
But it turns out that Airbnb removed a big slice of unfavorable information about its service in the weeks before it publicly released a highly anticipated report.
In a pair of letters delivered to the New York State Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, the short term rental site admitted it had removed commercial listings before releasing data to the state in December.
The company suggested the removal of the listings was not done to mislead the public but simply to bring the listings in line with its vision for the service.
“Throughout November, and consistent with our Compact commitments, we removed roughly 1,500 of the 37,000+ Airbnb listings in New York City in an effort to remove listings that appeared to be controlled by commercial operators and did not reflect Airbnb’s vision for our community,” the company wrote.
The purge affected 622 hosts with 60% having two or more listings removed, the company explained.
Airbnb’s admission comes after two independent researchers documented a sharp drop in a number of New York listings in the week before Airbnb sampled its data on November 17.
The company initially dismissed the findings, even going as far as to blame a busy marathon and Halloween weekend for what could have been a natural decline, nor did it disclose the removals in its first publicly-released report.
Wednesday’s note and data update to legislators confirms that the mysterious decrease in listings was not some natural ebb and flow of the site, and that the company will continue to remove listings that appear to be operated by commercial operators.
Airbnb’s latest data release on Wednesday shows that hosts with only one listing are still the commanding majority, although it has decreased one per cent since November from 95% to 94%.
Despite the large number of single-listing hosts, those who rent out multiple listings still make up 38% of its revenue in New York City. Airbnb expects this number to drop as it continues to remove more commercial listings, it said in the letter.
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