Story at a glance

  • Airbnb will only display users’ initials until a booking request is confirmed, but only in the state of Oregon.
  • The change was prompted after Airbnb was sued in 2019 by three Black women that alleged the company’s policies allowed hosts to discriminate against Black users.
  • The change in Oregon will take effect Jan. 31 and remain in place for at least two years.

Airbnb is going 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 Airbnb 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, according to Oregon Live.

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. 


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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. 

“We have made significant progress in the last few years to address painful stories of individuals who had requests to book a listing rejected and other negative experiences because of their race. Our purpose is to create belonging, and even one incident is an affront to our values,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO.

According to The Verge, Airbnb guests are not required to upload a profile photo, but hosts can require them in order to book their properties. It wasn’t until 2018 that Airbnb kept guest photographs hidden to hosts before bookings were confirmed.

It’s not clear if Airbnb is planning on implementing similar changes it’s doing in Oregon across other states.


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Published on Jan 03, 2022