Online accommodation site Airbnb is introducing a new policy to combat reports that black folk are less likely to get rooms. Yes! folks… I think it’s becoming a trend that certain black folks get the “flags” high whenever they try to interact with the world, why is this so? At Airbnb the move includes reducing the prominence of photos, introducing new technology, and asking hosts to sign an anti-discrimination agreement.
A study last year found that people with names that suggested they were black were discriminated against while a slew of customers have also complained about the issue. Following the Twitter hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack, many indicated they had been told a particular listing was unavailable, only to discover that the same places were re-advertised as available on the dates they had wanted.
In an email to users, chief executive Brian Chesky apologised for being slow to address the concerns. “Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them,” said Mr Chesky. “Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry.” The statement follows a report commissioned by the company from Laura Murphy, a former official with the American Civil Liberties Union.
The proposed policy changes include:
- Technology that means if a host has said a particular date is unavailable, they will not be able to then offer the dates to different guests
- Expanding the instant booking scheme, which allows guests to book rooms immediately and without specific approval from the host
- All users will have to agree to the company’s “stronger, more detailed non-discrimination policy”
- Provide anti-bias training for all Airbnb platform partners, hosts and employees (perhaps more so to the employees, I think)
Some critics had wanted the photo policy removed altogether in order to avoid ease of racial targeting, however this could be an important security feature that provides a level of human-behind-transaction sort of feature. Airbnb also sees it aw an important security feature.
To my fellow blacks, I think it’s high time on each ones own merit we assess ourselves to align to the world at large. Perhaps so, many have and are already receipients of hash treatments one way or the other, and while it is no excuse to thus become hostile and extremely “forcive” to every interaction with societies and systems at large, we may have to as well reconcientize our minds as to become more embrasive of the world we live in today.
Adapted from BBCNews