Family's Airbnb Stay Turns Sour After Connecting to WiFi

Nealie Barker and husband discover hidden camera livestreaming them, kids at Ireland property
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2019 11:50 AM CDT
Updated Apr 7, 2019 7:21 AM CDT
Family's Airbnb Stay Turns Sour After Connecting to WiFi
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/jtairat)

It was not an April Fools' joke Nealie Barker posted on Facebook April 1. "PLEASE SHARE WIDELY," the New Zealand mom wrote about a recent experience she and her family had while on vacation in Ireland. Sky News and the New Zealand Herald report that Barker and her family, including five children, were staying at an Airbnb in Cork on March 3 when her husband, Andrew, decided to sync his phone with the property's WiFi. As he went into his settings, Andrew noticed an unknown device on the network, and just for kicks, he connected to it. Then, the shocker: The family says Andrew's phone suddenly started streaming a live video feed of them. They poked around and found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector. "It was just a really horrible feeling," Nealie Barker tells CNN, adding to the Irish Times: "It felt like a huge invasion of our privacy."

The couple say they called Airbnb, which wasn't helpful, then the property's owner, who first denied the camera and then hung up on them. Per Stuff, the Barkers say he then called back and admitted to the camera, which was there to "protect his asset." The family notes they moved to different accommodations and contacted Airbnb, which vowed to conduct an investigation; weeks later, the company said it had found "no wrongdoing." The Barkers took to social media to spread their complaint, which is when Airbnb finally took action, offering the Barkers a full refund and removing the "bad actor" from their database. "Our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves, and we have apologized to the family," the company says in a statement. The Independent, meanwhile, calls hidden cameras in Airbnb properties a "recurring plague." (More Airbnb stories.)

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