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Uncovered: Airbnb Spend Out $50 million Every Year to Silence Victims

Airbnb reportedly spends millions to keep their PR intact when things go horrifically wrong.

Airbnb Black Box
Image credit: Pexels / Skitterphoto

Reputation makes or breaks a company, but Airbnb is reportedly spending millions to keep their PR intact when things go horrifically wrong.

Bloomberg Businessweek has uncovered Airbnb‘s secret ‘Black Box’ team that works relentlessly to cover up disasters and keep them out of the headlines, including paying off rape victims as much as $7 million.

The online market for lodging, Airbnb, pays out an estimated $50 million a year to keep hosts and guests alike quiet. The Black Box team consists of over 100 agents across London, Dublin, Singapore, Montreal, many of whom have backgrounds in the military and emergency services.

The team have blank cheques to spend preventing the worst crises at rentals from going to press, including rape and even murder.

One particular case Bloomsberg uncovered was the previously unreported case of a rape, to which Airbnb paid off $7 million to keep quiet.

The victim had been with her friends in Manhattan, renting the first-floor apartment on West 37th Street from Airbnb, to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 2015. After ringing in the new year, the woman let her friends at the bar and returned to the apartment alone.

As she walked into the bathroom, she realized too late that she was not alone, and saw a man holding a kitchen knife. He grabbed her, shoved her onto a bed, and raped her.

Although the perpetrator took her phone before fleeing, the victim managed to reach her iPad to alert her friends, who were able to find a police officer.

When the man returned an hour later, the police were in the apartment and caught him. The contents of his backpack revealed a knife, one of the woman’s earrings, and a set of keys to the apartment.

Nick Shapiro, former Deputy Chief of Staff at the CIA and National Security Council advisor to the White House, was two weeks into the job of Airbnb crisis manager when this case happened.

‘I remember thinking I was right back in the thick of it,’ Shapiro recalled. ‘This brought me back to feelings of confronting truly horrific matters at Langley and in the situation room at the White House’.

Shapiro helped coordinate an investigation to explore why the attacker had duplicate keys. Airbnb continues not to have a policy for how hosts exchange keys with guests.

Moreover, five people were shot dead at a Halloween party in an Airbnb in California after rival gang members started shooting into the party of over 100 attendees. Airbnb allegedly said they would pay for the funerals of the victims.

Clearly, the image advertisers push out into the public domain is far from what is happening behind closed doors. Who can we truly trust an age where advertisement costs lives?

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