In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests that have spread throughout the world, companies across all industries are reevaluating their approach to racial issues. Airbnb’s platform continues to be the scene of race bias, with both hosts and guests allegedly discriminating against potential guests and hosts on the basis of race. Now, Airbnb is taking steps to prevent this from happening.
According to Airbnb, the new Project Lighthouse initiative is designed to “address discrimination that’s based on perception — and on Airbnb, people percieve race from things like first named and profile photos.”
Currently, Airbnb requires hosts to agree to a non-discrimination policy, hides user photos until after bookings are confirmed, and has hired a non-discrimination team. Now, Airbnb is partnering with civil rights organizations like Color of Change and Upturn to determine what further policy changes might be needed to remove bias from the reservation process, reviews, and interactions with hosts and customer support.
On the Project Lighthouse website, Airbnb said, “Since 2016, we’ve removed 1.3 million people from Airbnb for declining to treat others without judgment or bias — but there’s still a lot more work to be done. An important step in our continued fight against discrimination is understanding when and how it happens,” and described the new initiative as a way to “uncover, measure, and overcome discrimination when booking or hosting on Airbnb.”