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Airbnb will hide guest’s first names in Oregon until bookings are confirmed in effort to ‘fight discrimination’

The home rental company Airbnb announced that it is changing how guest profiles are displayed on the app specifically for residents in Oregon.

Airbnb hosts based in Oregon will now only see a potential guest’s initials as opposed to their full name until they’ve confirmed that guest’s request to book.

The change comes to prevent racial discrimination from hosts, according to the company’s announcement, by preventing them from assuming a guest’s race based on their name.

A study from 2016 claimed that Airbnb guests who had names that “sounded” black were 16 percent less likely to have their bookings confirmed than guests whose names sounded white. The change to the booking system will be fully implemented by January 31st of this year. 

Airbnb’s announcement follows a voluntary settlement agreement between the company and three Portland-area women who filed a lawsuit in 2019. The plaintiffs, all of whom are black, claimed that the app allowed hosts to discriminate against them and other black users by requiring guests to input names and photographs to their profiles.

Airbnb then announced, after settling with the plaintiffs, that it would “review and update the way profile names are displayed to hosts as part of the booking process.” 

In the past, Airbnb has been vocal regarding its corporate support for racial justice. It has implemented a change stating that users must require to agree to an Airbnb Community Commitment, certifying that they will not discriminate.

In the summer of 2020, it also launched Project Lighthouse, which is an initiative to uncover and research discrimination that occurs on its platform. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: GIZMODO.COM

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