Yes! Yes it is! Airbnb is wonderful! It's the best thing ever to happen to NYC! Everyone loves it! It's the greatest thing ever! Oh my god, I love Airbnb so much! It's so awesome! I want to marry it and have 10 million of its babies!
No, not really. I'm kidding. Hope you could tell.
Airbnb, the "sharing" website that lets people rent our their apartments, has been on an aggressive PR campaign to try to convince New Yorkers that not only is this business great for NYC but that New Yorkers love it and think it's a wonderful thing. I've written about Airbnb before and lots of electronic ink has been spilled over its merits and drawbacks but it all comes down to this: it's illegal.
Airbnb is a crime syndicate. It is illegal for people to rent out their apartments if they are in a rental building or co-op. The renters are not paying hotel taxes. The buildings are not zoned to be hotels. And very often Airbnbers are using these temporary rentals to engage in drugs or prostitution or other illegal stuff. It's been leading to disturbing things like total strangers roaming the halls, young people having parties in the middle of the night, and all sorts of other unintended consequences -- like landlords not renting out apartments and turning them into permanent Airbnb hotels. This is illegal!
And yet ... Airbnb will try to tell us otherwise. And man, they are out in force! This company is flooding the airways with ads, you can't go into the subway without an Airbnb poster getting in your face. They're more aggressive than panhandlers! And this article about Airbnb is fascinating -- not only for the article itself but also for the comments section. At first, all of the comments are anti-Airbnb, people who guinealy have a problem with the company, and then ... a little while later ... but then quite suddenly ... a stream of pro-Airbnb comments! Hmmmm ... wonder why? Clearly, Airbnb is paying these people to search the Internet and flood comments sections and chat rooms with the company line. It's Astroturfing at its finest.
I've seen this before. I wrote a few anti-Walmart blog posts in the past and they always resulted in pro-Walmart comments being instantely fired back at me. I wondered who in NYC loves Walmart so much that they would take the time to write corporate propaganda messages to me, a nobody blogger? Then I realized that I was being Astroturfed, that people on the Walmart payroll were doing it as part of their PR campaign. I'm waiting, waiting quite patiently, for the first Airbnb Astroturfing comment to be flung my way. Quite frankly, I'll be a lil' sad if they don't.
So no, Airbnb is not good for NYC. In fact, it's really, really bad. Like, really, really, really bad.