How does Airbnb use data to work against racial discrimination?
An important step in our continued fight against discrimination is understanding when and how it happens. To measure trends and patterns, Airbnb may use the first names and profile photos of Airbnb hosts and guests based in the United States to help us understand the race someone else might associate with them. We do this because discrimination is based on perception, regardless of whether that perception is accurate. These perceptions will be aggregated and used to identify and measure discrepancies in people's experiences on Airbnb that could be a result of discrimination and bias. Data privacy advocates and experts have provided guidance to help ensure this data isn’t associated with an individual’s Airbnb account. Analyzing these discrepancies in people's experiences can help us create new features and policies to address them.
Learn more about what we’re doing to battle discrimination on Airbnb.
What we do with first name and profile photo information
People often base their perception of someone’s race on their name and what they look like. So, to get these perceptions, we share Airbnb profile photos and the first names associated with them with an independent partner that’s not part of Airbnb. This partner operates under a strict confidentiality agreement, so they’re prohibited from sharing this information with anyone else.
The partner looks at these photos and first names and indicates what race they think the information suggests. Before their perceptions are shared with a specialized team at Airbnb, all the information tying perceived race back to an account is removed, including the photo, first name, and any other details that could be used to find out which Airbnb account they belong to.
We can’t and won’t use this information to change anyone’s individual experience on Airbnb, and we’ll never sell or use it in any marketing or advertising. We only use it to research and address discrimination, and any insights will be used to help develop new features and policies that create a more equitable experience for everyone.
You can read more details of the methodology in our publicly available technical paper.
If you don’t want us to use your information
At this time, this initiative only includes some guests and hosts based in the United States. To tell us to not use your profile photo and first name for this work, go to the Data use tab of your account’s Privacy & sharing page and turn off the setting. If your account has been active for over 72 hours and doesn’t include the Data use tab, your information is not being used for this initiative.
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