In an escalation of hostilities, a new 30-second ad backed by New York City hotels and hotel worker unions portrays Airbnb listings as security threats to New Yorkers.
The ad, which was immediately criticized for using fear-mongering tactics, is the latest example of established industries responding to disruptive competition by lobbying for regulatory intervention.
The video begins by stating that there are 40,000 Airbnb listings in NYC and asserts that Airbnb permits “illegal listings on its site.” Despite this, the ad states, Airbnb “refuses to hand over the addresses to law enforcement.” Failing to turn over this data could have dangerous repercussions, the ad appears to convey, referencing how Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, used a short-term rental through an online retailer when he conducted the attack, and reminding viewers that New York remains a primary target for terrorism.
Airbnb quickly denounced the ad, calling it “an outrageous scare tactic” and asserting that Airbnb “had nothing to do with the tragic events in Manchester.” It also stated that it is “one of the only hospitality companies that runs background checks on all U.S. residents, both hosts and guests.”
The ad comes in the midst of discussions over proposed legislation in New York backed by the hotel industry that would require ads on home-sharing sites to list the property’s “address, including street name, street number, apartment number, borough, town and county of the unit being offered.”