A Harvard Business School report published earlier this year (here and here) found “widespread discrimination” by Airbnb hosts who were less likely to accept bookings from guests whose names sounded distinctly black. The indications of this study continued to ring true on social media as reports by African-American travelers told of their attempts at booking Airbnb stays that were either denied or canceled because of their race, popularizing the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.

The Harvard Business School report mentioned:

In a field experiment on Airbnb, we find that requests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names. The difference persists whether the host is African-American or White, male or female.

Now, the home-sharing company is taking affirmative steps to at least examine the issue, according to a report by The Washington Post that the company has hired a consultant and former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office, Laura Murphy, to lead the examination for Airbnb.

We can’t control all the biases of all of our users but we want to make clear that discrimination is against everything we stand for,” a spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post.



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