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Airbnb suspended almost 4,000 hosts and guests this year for violating its policy against discrimination

Brian CheskyAirbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

Mike Segar/Reuters

  • Airbnb has suspended nearly 4,000 accounts for violating the company’s non-discrimination policy.
  • Guests perceived to be Black had the lowest percentage of bookings confirmed after trying to reserve, a company report found.
  • “We will continue to innovate and design new products and initiatives that increase acceptance and combat bias,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said.

Thousands of Airbnb users have been suspended from the platform this year for violating the company’s policy against discrimination.

Airbnb says it removed nearly 4,000 accounts worldwide in 2022 for violating its non-discrimination policy, according to a company report published Tuesday. The policy prohibits Airbnb hosts from declining bookings or imposing different conditions on guests based on factors like their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

The removals mark a decrease from last year, when Airbnb suspended 5,100 accounts for violating its non-discrimination policy.

The new report includes data from Project Lighthouse, an initiative Airbnb launched in 2020 to address disparities in how people of color use the platform. It showed differences in how often people are able to successfully book Airbnbs based on their perceived races.

The widest disparity existed between guests perceived as Black and those perceived as white. Last year, guests perceived to be Black were confirmed to book the Airbnb of their choice 91.4% of the time, compared to 94.1% for guests perceived to be white. The booking success rate was 93.4% for Asians and for Latinos, and it was 93.2% for other or unknown races, as defined by the report. The data was gathered from a random sample of 750,000 reservation requests made in 2021.

“Airbnb is built on trust, and we will continue to innovate and design new products and initiatives that increase acceptance and combat bias,” said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in an accompanying press release.

In 2018, Airbnb changed its platform so that hosts could only see a guest’s profile picture after accepting their reservation. The company says this reduced the disparity in booking success between guests perceived as Black and those perceived as white but didn’t have a statistically significant impact on the rate for other perceived races.

This November, Airbnb made it easier for guests to use Instant Book, which lets users book listings without a host’s approval on the reservation. 

The company says it’s currently working on making it easier for guests to receive reviews, since guests with more reviews have a better chance of successfully booking a listing than guests without reviews. Guests perceived as Black or Latino have fewer reviews than guests perceived as white or Asian, according to Airbnb.

The company has come under fire in recent years for its approach to addressing discrimination on the platform.

At the start of this year, Airbnb said it would hide guests’ names, only showing their initials, until their bookings are confirmed, but only in Oregon. The change came after a 2019 settlement in which three Black women in the state sued, saying hosts could discriminate, including by denying guests bookings, based on race. 

In 2016, a Harvard Business Review study found that guests with names that sounded Black were roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests whose names sounded white.

Read the original article on Business Insider