Last week, when you logged on to popular home-sharing app Airbnb, you may have been prompted to accept new terms before continuing to the site. Along with some routine policy and procedural changes, you had to tick a box agreeing “to treat everyone — regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age — with respect, and without judgment or bias.”
It’s an unusual promise for a tech company to elicit, but for Airbnb, it’s been a long time coming.
When San Francisco entrepreneurs Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Brian Chesky launched Airbnb in 2008, the company promised to provide anyone a chance to book faster, cheaper travel accommodations, anywhere in the world. As it grew to an estimated worth of $30 billion, as much as Hilton and Hyatt combined, its logo was branded as a universal symbol of belonging — but some users didn’t feel at home. Many had repeated trouble booking places on Airbnb, with hosts ignoring their messages or suddenly making their homes unavailable. These users are, overwhelmingly, black.
Now, as Airbnb takes the first steps to address biases among its users ̵... Read more