When Airbnb asked users to pledge to treat people equally, a lot refused

Users were asked to sign a non-discrimination pledge

Stung by ongoing criticism and evidence that some of its hosts discriminated against non-white guests, Airbnb this month began asking users to pledge to treat everyone equally.

A lot have refused.

The so-called "community commitment" has been presented to Airbnb hosts and users since Nov. 1 and asks them to make a simple promise: to "treat everyone —regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age — with respect, and without judgment or bias."

Anyone declining to click the accept button has had their ability to host and book suspended and was given the option of canceling their account.

On Thursday, at an event held to launch a new trip-booking service, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky was asked how many of its users had declined the commitment.

"I don’t even know the number of the top of my head, but it was a lot," he told the BBC.

The company's commitment came about after studies and anecdotes suggested race played a part in whether some Airbnb bookings were accepted.

One study, by the Harvard School of Business, concluded would-be guests with names that are "distinctly African-American" are 16 percent less likely to have booking requests accepted than identical requests from guests with "distinctively white" names.

The study uncovered that discrimination is just as likely from large landlords as small ones but was most likely from hosts who have never had an African-American guest before. So while only a subset of Airbnb hosts was believed to discriminate, the platform itself allowed this to happen by showing a photo and name of a would-be guest when they asked about a booking.

The study lent support to claims of discrimination made by users, some of whom posted screenshots on social media with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.

One user, Quirtina Crittenden, detailed to NPR earlier this year how she faced problems booking accommodation, but how they disappeared when she changed her profile picture to a nondescript photograph of a city.

In response to these studies and claims, Airbnb commissioned a report on racism on the platform that concluded there had been "too many unacceptable instances of people being discriminated against on the Airbnb platform because of who they are or what they look like."

As a result, Airbnb was said to be doubling down on its efforts to fight the problem. November's community commitment has been perhaps the most visible product of those efforts to date.

Airbnb did not respond to a request for more information about how many people had declined to accept the commitment.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Airbnb

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?