Last month, Airbnb came under fire after a host on their platform refused a guest because of their race. The company immediately declared the behaviour "abhorrent and unacceptable" and permanently removed the host from Airbnb in line with their non-discrimination policy.
This week, the platform has enforced that policy in unprecedented heights by deactivating accounts of people they believe are trying to host gatherings related to a white supremacist rally.
Writers and members of The Daily Stormer, an infamously virulently racist website, organised to both stay in and have after parties at Airbnb listings and posted about it online. The thread was reported to Airbnb and the platform began to remove users they could confirm were booking large gatherings for the white supremacy rally.
Those attending the rally, being held this weekend in Virginia, started to notice their accounts being deactivated in the lead up to the gathering and became vocal about protecting their “civil rights”.
Jason Kessler, a white supremacist speaking at the march, called on his followers to boycott the platform in a video.
"You see this thing going that's going on with Airbnb," said Kessler in a video.
"Anybody who is not just in the alt-right, but who is conservative, right-wing or cares about civil liberties should start boycotting Airbnb.
“Airbnb are cancelling people's reservations to stay in Charlottesville ... based on political ideology."
Airbnb’s community rules, established in 2016, state that "those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age".
"When through our background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behaviour on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform," they said in a statement.
But what does this move mean in the long term?
While claims that Airbnb is evicting neo-nazis, white nationalists and Ku Kulx Klan members based on something as mundane as “political beliefs” is a massive oversimplification from those on the alt-right, it does raise interesting questions.
How will the platform decide which events warrant a deactivation and what measures do they have in place to ensure they’re suspending people in breach of the community standards, not just someone visiting Great Aunt Mauve on the street on the same weekend?
The website has said they will continue to "evaluate these matters on a case-by-case basis".
"[We] respect everyone’s right to express their views, but believe people of good will have a moral responsibility to take action when confronted with such extreme hatred," Airbnb said to Now To Love.
Airbnb updated their guidelines before this incident to allow government officials to investigate claims of discrimination against certain hosts after coming under fire for its earlier policies.
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