Berlin activists castrate Airbnb’s logo to convince tourists not to use the site

Few cities have taken such a hardline against Airbnb as Berlin. In May, a new law went into effect there that makes renting out entire apartments on sites like Airbnb illegal.

Two months later, though, there are still hundreds of “entire homes” available to rent within the city’s borders on Airbnb. So Berlin residents who blame the city’s rising rental prices on Airbnb’s growth have launched a #BoycottAirbnb movement, placing graphic ads around the city urging tourists not to use the site. The ads feature Airbnb’s logo transformed into a noose and naughty parts of the human anatomy:

The ads are in English rather than German, so clearly aimed at tourists. “When you book an apartment on Airbnb,” the ads read, “think about the rising rent prices for locals, an increase in touristification and people going through social displacement. For each holiday apartment a local tenant has to leave their home.”

The ads, which began showing up pasted over other ads throughout Berlin last week, seem to be the work of a group of people tweeting under the handle @AirbnbBoycott.

Some Berliners disagree with the campaign, saying Airbnb helps residents pay those rising rents.

I reached out and asked Airbnb why it has continued to allow users to post full apartments for rent in Berlin with the new law in effect. The company didn’t respond to the question, but sent me this statement instead:

“Airbnb is an economic lifeline for thousands of regular Berliners that helps them afford their homes and the city they love. It democratises the benefits of travel for everyone and spreads guests and benefits beyond city centres to more communities and businesses.”

Berlin has issued some of the harshest regulations against Airbnb to date, but other cities like New York and Reykjavik have also begun cracking down, citing damage to the local housing markets. In Berlin, and elsewhere, it seems, Airbnb may have begun to outstay its welcome.

Updated to include a statement from Airbnb.