Airbnb Hides Guest First Names in Oregon to Stop Discrimination

A new update for guests who are residents of Oregon will help tackle discrimination on the platform. It seems like people in other states will have to keep fighting to be treated fairly on the platform.

In a December news announcement, the company said that hosts would only see the initials of guests until they confirmed a booking. The guest's full name will appear after a host confirms the booking. The change to how names are displaced will be in place for at least two years.

While we have made progress, we have more to do and continue working with our Hosts and guests, and with civil rights leaders to make our community more inclusive.

The company said that the update is in line with the voluntary settlement agreement it reached with individuals in Oregon.

According to the Oregonian, a Portland resident filed a lawsuit against the home rental company. She claimed that the company was allowing hosts to discriminate against Black guests because they required guests to reveal their full name and include a photo. She alleged that this was a violation of Oregon's public accommodation laws.

Two more Black women in Oregon were included in the lawsuit. By that time, he had died.

The claims of the lawsuit were correct. Black guests have been complaining about discrimination on the platform for years and have created a #AirbnbWhileBlack. A Harvard Business School study found that requests from guests with African American names were less likely to be accepted by hosts than similar guests with white names.

In order to promote the equitable treatment of its users, the same year,Airbnb implemented an agreement to promote the respectful treatment of its users. The company hid guests profile pictures after the agreement was reached. According to Gizmodo, in 2020 Airbnb banned over one million people from its platform for refusing to accept its non discrimination agreement.

Black people are not the only ones who are discriminated against on the platform. Asian, trans, North Africans, Uyghurs, and Tibetans have been turned away by their hosts.

The change only applied to Oregon residents, and Gizmodo wanted to know why. It seems like it could be beneficial in other areas as well. The lawsuit settlement was cited by an Airbnb spokesman.

Liz DeBold Fusco said in an email that the implementation will be limited. The impact of this change will be evaluated to see if there are learnings from this work that can inform future efforts to fight bias.

This is a positive step from Airbnb, and I may have been salty above, but it is. The company may not be moving as fast as we would like, but discrimination is a difficult issue, and creating effective change takes time. You have to keep going and fight discrimination, not just because you got sued.