Airbnb introduced that it’s altering the best way visitor profiles are displayed in its app — for Oregon residents particularly. Airbnb hosts who’re primarily based in Oregon will now see a possible visitor’s initials, somewhat than their full identify, till after they’ve confirmed that visitor’s reserving request. The change will totally roll out by January thirty first.
The change goals to stop racial discrimination amongst hosts, per the corporate’s announcement, by stopping them from gleaning a visitor’s race from their identify. A 2016 research discovered that Airbnb company with names that sounded Black had been 16 p.c much less doubtless to have bookings confirmed than company with names that sounded white.
The announcement follows a voluntary settlement settlement that Airbnb reached in 2019 with three Portland-area ladies who had sued the corporate. The plaintiffs, all Black, alleged that the platform allowed hosts to discriminate in opposition to Black customers in requiring company to connect names and pictures to their profiles.
After settling with the plaintiffs, Airbnb introduced that it could “review and update the way profile names are displayed to hosts as part of the booking process.”
The firm has been vocal about its help for racial justice in the previous. It now requires customers to agree to an Airbnb Community Commitment certifying that they received’t discriminate. It additionally launched Project Lighthouse, an initiative to uncover and analysis discrimination on its platform, in the summer time of 2020. Prior to the launch of that program, the corporate says it didn’t have a approach to measure “larger trends and patterns related to discrimination” throughout its bookings.
Airbnb company usually are not required to present profile pictures (although hosts can require them in order to e-book their properties). Since 2018 (post-lawsuit, pre-settlement), the platform has additionally saved visitor pictures invisible to hosts earlier than bookings are confirmed. That change, additionally meant to fight discrimination, has proved considerably controversial amongst Airbnb’s customers, a few of whom fear that it may put marginalized company in harmful conditions they’d in any other case keep away from. “I’d rather get declined for a reservation than beaten or killed!” one consumer lamented in the corporate’s community middle.
But if the corporate does anticipate such a method to cut back discrimination, why is it restricted to Oregon? Reached for remark, Airbnb spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco didn’t immediately handle whether or not this function will increase in the longer term. Fusco pointed to language in Airbnb’s announcement publish, which reads, “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 firm added that it plans to “continue working with our Hosts and guests, and with civil rights leaders to make our community more inclusive.”