Airbnb is trying to crack down on fake listings by verifying all listings in its top five markets — the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and France. The company is trying to crack down on fake listings through this program by asking hosts to submit information such as photos with GPS data.
The company said it will begin the verification process in the first batch of countries later this year, and expand the program to 30 other countries by next fall.
Brian Chesky, the company’s CEO, said that verified symbols will start appearing next to the listing starting in February.
Airbnb is trying to solve the issue of listing properties that don’t exist, have false information or are owned by someone else than the mentioned host. Scamsters often use photos of real properties or listings to trick users into paying.
In 2019, post the death of five people at a Halloween party hosted at an Airbnb rental, the company began cracking down on parties. It also started to verify information on all its listings. Now, the company is ramping up its verification program by asking hosts for more details.
Airbnb said it is using its anti-fraud tech along with a combination of “AI and human review” for listing verification. Hosts listing a new property will need to upload images of the property with GPS data through the Airbnb app. For existing listings, the company will look at booking history data and reviews along with details provided by the host. In all cases, hosts should list properties at an accurate location and they should have access to that.
While Airbnb didn’t provide a timeline, it said that the company will provide “sufficient time” for hosts of existing properties. However, if Airbnb doesn’t get details from hosts, it can take actions including limiting their accounts. The travel company didn’t specify if it plans to remove unverified properties in the future.
In a scenario where a place is real, but belongs to someone other than the host, Airbnb says it looks for Host reputation, template messaging, duplicate photos and other discrepancies.
Airbnb emphasized that fake content has “no place” on its platform. However, it will be curious to see how the company handles a property where the host has assigned a caretaker to manage the listing.
The company said this year it has blocked 157,000 fake listings from joining the platform and removed 59,000 fraudulant listings.
Earlier this month, new short-term rental rules for New York City went into effect, which forces hosts to register with the city. Additionally, for short-term rentals of less than 30 days, hosts should be physically present in the rental. Estimates from the travel website Skift indicate that in the last few months, listings on Airbnb have dropped by 77% in NYC.
Airbnb didn’t specify if it plans to use registration data for verification of listings.