Airbnb apologizes after racism complaints, outlines changes
NEW YORK - Airbnb is apologizing for its slow response to accusations of racism. And it's outlining new policies to combat the problem, including reducing the prominence of photos in the booking process.
The company also plans to automatically block future reservations for dates where a host has told someone that a property was unavailable.
Anecdotes on social media involve African-American guests who were told listings were unavailable for the dates they wanted, only to see those same listings re-advertised later for the same dates.
Airbnb did not bow to critics' requests that it remove profile photos entirely so that hosts can't reject guests based on appearance. The company has said that photos are an important security features so hosts can recognize guests when they check in.
Accusations that Airbnb has been ignoring complaints of racism have led several black entrepreneurs to create two new vacation rental websites where they say racism will not be tolerated.