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Airbnb Deleted Listings Before Posting Data In New York City

The listings "did not reflect Airbnb’s vision for our community," Airbnb says.

[Photo: Flickr user John Zacherle]

Airbnb admitted on Wednesday that it had deleted about 1,500 listings in New York City—listings that appeared to be controlled by commercial operators—before publishing its site data last year "to help policymakers craft smart rules for home sharing."

In a letter to the New York State Assembly and Senate, Airbnb's head of public policy in New York, Josh Meltzer, said the deleted listings, which accounted for about 4% of all listings in New York City at the time, "did not reflect Airbnb’s vision for our community," and that this was not the first time that Airbnb had removed listings from its site.

In December, Airbnb published data in an effort to defend itself against claims that its hosts are renting entire homes for the sole purpose of subleasing them through the site, leading to increased housing prices. The public data showed that the vast majority of Airbnb users post only one listing on the site, but critics who had been scraping the site's data accused Airbnb of purging its database right before the release to paint a rosier picture of its operations.

Airbnb also released updated data on Wednesday. It shows that though 94% of hosts in New York who rent an entire home have only one listing, 38% of revenue from entire-home listings came from hosts with two or more listings.

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