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Airbnb Hides Guest Names in Oregon to Tackle Discrimination

Airbnb plans to stop revealing guests’ names on its platform until a booking request is confirmed, but the change is only going to be implemented in the state of Oregon. The change stems from a lawsuit that was brought against in 2019 by three Black women who lived in the Portland area.

The lawsuit claimed by requiring guests to disclose their full names and photographs, Airbnb was allowing hosts to discriminate against Black users. That would be in violation of Oregon’s public accommodation laws.

In response to the lawsuit, Airbnb announced in late December that Oregon hosts would start seeing the initials of guests in place of their first name until a booking request is confirmed. Once confirmed, the guest’s name will then appear.  The changes are set to take effect Jan. 31 and remain in effect for at least two years.

A field study conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School in 2016 found that on Airbnb, requests from guests with distinctively African American names were roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively white names.Airbnb has been trying to actively solve for racial discrimination on its platform, launching Project Lighthouse in June 2020. It aims to measure discrimination based on perception through a methodology that determines the race someone might associate with a first name and profile photo.

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