Back in November, in an attempt to prove that it's okay with transparency (and that its users are all above board, despite evidence/criticism to the contrary), Airbnb released a year's worth of data that it had accrued on listings in New York City. The data revealed many things about NYC hosts—including that many of them are operating illegal listings—but a team of independent researchers is now alleging that those facts weren't entirely accurate. The website Inside Airbnb (founded by Murray Cox) released a report alleging that Airbnb tampered with the data that was made publicly available, deleting as many as 1,000 listings in an attempt to "paint a misleading picture" of its NYC operations.
The report, compiled by Cox and tech writer Tom Slee, is compiled from two different sats of data using Airbnb listings going as far back as 2013. By doing so, they were able to compare the information that Airbnb made available to journalists in November to the site's data on a typical day/week/month, and the results were fairly damning. According to the report, "Airbnb ensured a favorable picture by carrying out a one-time targeted purge of over 1,000 listings," and used the days immediately following that purge as representative of its operations. The listings that were deleted were for "entire home" rentals, which have been targeted by critics as being the biggest source of illegal activity on the site.
Cox and Slee also poked holes in other data that Airbnb made available, including the statistic that "95% of our entire home hosts share only one listing"; according to their findings, that was true for "less than two weeks of the year." They allege that this was all done in order to make the company's dealings look better to journalists, who were presented with a very specific data set to analyze.