Last updated: 12:03 PM ET, Thu June 09 2016

How is Airbnb Fighting Racism?

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | June 09, 2016

How is Airbnb Fighting Racism?

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Short-term rental service Airbnb has found itself in hot water in the wake of a handful of troubling incidents in which hosts have allegedly discriminated against certain users.

The most recent incident occurred last week when messages were posted online showing a North Carolina host had made racist remarks to a black female renter who was denied the booking after having initially been approved. The host was subsequently banned for life

Incidents like that one and a recent lawsuit filed against the San Francisco-based company in Washington, D.C. have prompted Airbnb leadership to speak out.

At Wednesday's OpenAir engineering event in the Bay Area, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the company has "zero tolerance for any amount of racism or discrimination on our platform."

According to Chesky, Airbnb also plans to do something about the recent slew of incidents by revisiting its platform design in the coming months. 

"In the next months, we will be revisiting the design of our site from end to end to see how we can create a more inclusive platform," he said during the opening keynote per USA Today. "We're open to ideas. It's a really, really hard problem and we need help solving it. We want to move this forward. I myself have engaged with people who have been victims of discrimination on the platform. We take this seriously."

READ MORE: Does Airbnb Have a Discrimination Problem?

Airbnb's discrimination problem has become more and more prominent in recent weeks following the emergence of the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack, which became a trending topic on Twitter and other social media websites last month. 

Several users shared similar experiences in which they were denied a booking because of their appearance in their profile picture. Some even created fake profiles with stereotypically sounding white names and fake profile photos to see if they would be approved.

The protests are supported by a recent Harvard study that found that Airbnb hosts are less likely to rent to users with African American sounding names. 


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