It was a freebie! According to reps for Airbnb, Beyoncé was not paid to post about her stay. However, a source familiar with the situation told BuzzFeed News that her rental fee was comped by Airbnb (the host got paid).
“We’re huge fans of Beyoncé and we’re thrilled to see her Facebook post and hope she was crazy in love with her Airbnb listing,” Airbnb wrote in a statement at the time. This is, you’ll notice, doesn’t indicate whatsoever that Beyoncé wasn’t a paying Airbnb customer — to me, this statement implies the opposite, that she is a paying customer.
The FTC has rules – lots of rules – about how bloggers or social media stars are supposed to disclose if they’re getting paid to post about a product or company. But these are confusing, especially if it’s not a paid ad, but a free gift like a comped hotel room – something that celebs get all the time. The general rule of thumb, though, is that the average person should be able to tell if something is an ad or not.
I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on this kind of stuff, and I couldn’t really tell. Bobby Finger, host of the Who? Weekly celebrity gossip podcast, wrote in Jezebel that he wasn’t sure if it was an ad, either. If someone whose job is writing and podcasting about celebrity gossip can’t tell if this was an ad or not, then how is the average person supposed to know? Especially when Airbnb PR’s statement to the press at the time was so ambiguous.