Airbnb Plans To Address Racist Home Owners
A new study from Harvard Business School shows that home renting site Airbnb hosts are more likely to book reservations with users who have “distinctly white” names but according to NPR reports, the company is now trying to address the racist issues…
African American sounding names were roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted than their white-sounding counterparts. They found discrimination across the board: among cheap listings and expensive listings, in diverse neighborhoods and homogenous neighborhoods, and with novice hosts as well as experienced hosts. They also found that black hosts were also less likely to accept requests from guests with African American-sounding names than with white-sounding ones.
Luca and his colleagues found hosts pay a price for their bias—when hosts rejected a black guest, they only found a replacement about a third of the time. In a separate study, Luca and his colleagues have found that guests discriminate, too, and black hosts earn less money on their properties on Airbnb.
To put this in perspective, AirBnb isn’t some little startup anymore. It’s one of the largest players in the hotel industry worldwide. In 2015, more than 2 million listings were offered on the platform, nearly four times as many rooms as the Marriott hotel chain.
Luca thinks this racial discrepancy is driven largely by unconscious bias—the hidden associations we have that affect our behavior without us realizing it. The way AirBnb’s platform is designed, names and photos are the first thing people see, and therefore one of the first things they consider, either consciously or unconsciously, when choosing a place to stay.
Social scientists have uncovered racial bias in all different places online. Shankar talked with psychologist Raj Ghoshal, who’s found racial discrimination on Craigslist. Mikki Hebl, a psychologist at Rice University, has found racial bias on Facebook.