Exploring the language of the sharing economy: Building trust and reducing privacy concern on Airbnb in German and English

Several countries’ economies have been disrupted by the sharing economy. Global champions like Airbnb and Uber use similar models and platforms across many countries. However, each country and its consumers have different characteristics including the language used. The text in the profile of those offering their properties in England in English and in Germany in German, are compared to explore whether trust is built, and privacy concerns are reduced in the same way. Six methods of building trust are used by the landlords: (1) the level of formality, (2) distance and proximity, (3) emotiveness and humor, (4) being assertive and passive aggressive, (5) conformity to the platform language style and terminology and (6) setting boundaries. Privacy concerns are not usually reduced directly as this is left to the platform. The findings indicate that language has a limited influence and the platform norms and habits are the biggest influence.

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