In the roughly 13 years that it has been in business, Airbnb has become one of the most prominent housing services for travelers, offering unique properties worldwide. Although it has largely revolutionized the way people visit different locations, there are a lot of differences between a hotel and an Airbnb property, namely that the latter is owned and operated by individual people.
Given that individuals are the proprietors of Airbnb properties as opposed to hotels, which are owned and regulated by companies, each Airbnb is unique to the owner. One bit of information that has worried Airbnb users for some time is the privacy violations that may occur from sleeping in another person's residence. While Airbnb's regulations require hosts to disclose the location of any cameras set up in the home for security purposes, the use of hidden cameras is explicitly against the rules.
Still, there have been instances where guests have discovered that their Airbnb hosts have been secretly spying on them using hidden cameras. So, how do you know if the Airbnb property that you're staying at is secretly using cameras to record you? Here's a surefire way to figure it out.
How do you spot hidden cameras in an Airbnb? Here's what we know.
Although it may seem nearly impossible to find a "hidden" camera, especially if they're microscopic (like many spy cameras can be nowadays), there are some ways you can check your next Airbnb rental and see if there are any laying around.
A former hacker on TikTok, Marcus Hutchins, who goes by @malwaretech, posted a video in which he demonstrated how to do some snooping of your own to see if you're being watched by your host.
"The first thing you are going to want to look for is devices that are conveniently placed where a creeper would want to look," Marcus said in the video. He then pointed out specific locations that would be close to where people move around often and sleep.
"Take this fire alarm, for instance. It is placed right above the bed. One way to see if the device is a camera is to shine a bright light at it," he explained, shining a light at the alarm.
The method to test it is simple, Marcus said, "If you hit a camera lens, it’s going to get a blue-ish reflection. Now you can test this by shining a light at your phone and seeing how the camera looks when placed under a flashlight."
He also says that items like alarm clocks and USB chargers could host small hidden cameras as well.
"This alarm clock is mirrored," the former hacker said, "But if we shine a bright light at it, we can see through the glass and see there is a camera there. This technique can also work on two-way mirrors."
As a bit of a final warning, Marcus concluded by saying, "These cameras are really small as you can see here, so they can be hidden in anything, even a hole in the wall."
There are ways to combat this beyond simply looking for cameras as well, such as purchasing RF-detecting devices available on sites such as Amazon. These are capable of reading a majority of radio signals that hidden cameras would give off. Even with that though, some cameras are so small and give off such minimal signals that most commercially available readers won't even be able to pick them up.
Naturally, the comments under the video, which has been viewed close to 10 million times, were flooded with users concerned for their safety when staying in an Airbnb. Some have said that the potential of being spied on is swaying them to no longer use the service.
"Do they just want to watch the tenants living their lives? Sleeping? Eating? Changing? What’s the point!" exclaimed one concerned user.
"OMG, never again," wrote another.