Airbnb blocks Oregon hosts from seeing guests’ names in push against racial bias
Move comes after lawsuit in which three Black women alleged discrimination tied to names and photos
Tue 4 Jan 2022 06.00 GMT
Airbnb rental hosts in the state of Oregon will no longer be able to see guests’ names before approving their bookings, according to a new plan announced by the company.
The policy update is specific to Oregon, for now, and was born out of a lawsuit in which three Black women from the Portland, Oregon, area alleged the rental site’s use of names and photographs allowed for racial discrimination, violating the state’s public accommodation laws.
The suit was settled in 2019, and starting on 31 January, Airbnb announced this week, hosts in Oregon will only see a guest’s initials until their booking is confirmed, only after which their full name will be visible. The update will be in effect for at least two years, the company said.
“As part of our ongoing work, we will take any learnings from this process and use them to inform future efforts to fight bias,” the company added.
Complaints about discrimination on Airbnb aren’t new. In 2015 and 2016, the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack circulated, highlighting racism experienced by some of the platform’s users. Many Black users discussed being denied bookings until they changed their names online or used generic profile photos. Some even found that using photos of white individuals could game the system.
A study conducted by Harvard Business School researchers in 2016 affirmed these stories through data. After studying 6,400 Airbnb listings in five American cities, the study concluded that “requests from guests with distinctively African American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively white names”.
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... rimination
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