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Airbnb introduces new rules meant to fight discrimination

Engadget Engadget 8/09/2016 Brittany Vincent
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Airbnb has gone forward with several rules meant to combat the discrimination perceived in its rental policy as of today.

The short-term rental service has introduced said rules in a bid to combat criticism of its previous policies, which had been characterized as easy for hosts to reject potential renters on the grounds of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, age or disability.

A new "community commitment" will go into place on November 1st, which asks that all Airbnb hosts work together alongside anyone who uses the service, "regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age."

It's all lined out in a massive 32-page report detailing the changes, which also spell out an increase in instant bookings that go through without prior host approval, in addition to the company's experiments with reducing how prominently displayed user photos are.

These alterations come following a class-action lawsuit from Airbnb customer Gregory Selden, who alleged he had been kept from renting a property via the site because of his race. Last December, a research paper from Harvard Unviersity concluded that it was more difficult for guests with names that sounded more "African-American" to rent rooms via the service. Users have since correlated this research with personal experience that mirror these findings.

Aside from rolling out a new set of policies for renters to abide by, Airbnb has also created a new team of engineers meant to help find and end any bias the company may have during operation. Discrimination complaints go to specialists trained exactly for those kindsof delicate situations.

The company is obviously making strides toward improvement, but only time will tell if they're effective moves.


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