Airbnb Has an Aggressive Plan to Stop Racism on Its Platform. Can It Be Enforced?Clearly, AirBnB needs to hang a few of its hosts to encourage the others. After all, what is more progressive than a Silicon Valley corporate juggernaut worth $25 billion making a public example of out you for whom you invite into your home?
By Henry Grabar
Airbnb took a big step Thursday toward eradicating discrimination by its hosts—or, at least, toward removing those hosts from its network.
In a 32-page report prepared by Laura Murphy, a consultant, with help from the company’s summer hire, former Attorney General Eric Holder, the company announced plans to weed out discriminatory hosts.
Those include a product team to detect bias in Airbnb bookings, reduced prominence of personal photos, and a commitment to diversifying the company’s workforce. Under a new “Open Door” policy, the company will help guests who believe they’ve been discriminated against find new accommodations quickly.
Those changes come in response to the public outcry of black guests, who brought widespread attention to racist Airbnb hosts this summer. The company is also the defendant in a class-action lawsuit filed by a black guest in Washington, D.C., though the Civil Rights Act permits discrimination by operators of small rooming houses. Airbnb itself, as a self-described marketplace, was unlikely to be legally at fault for the actions of its hosts, under federal protections for the content published by internet companies.
So the new, voluntary initiative has the feel of genuine corporate repentance. …
Women who share living spaces with guests may refuse to rent to men. But they may not refuse to rent to trans women. … You can still decline to rent to families, young people, or old people, except where otherwise prohibited by law.