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Airbnb unveils policies to fight user discrimination


Matt Picht
Airbnb finally has a plan to deal with the accusations of rampant bias and discrimination on the room-sharing service.
The site is changing its policies to try to make it harder for users to discriminate against which guests they allow to rent their rooms. Those changes include de-emphasizing photos in user profiles and speeding up the rollout of a service that automatically books vacant rooms without the host’s approval.

The company has spent months trying to address discrimination. Its policy changes were prompted by an intensive internal review commissioned in June and led by former ACLU executive Laura Murphy.

Ever since a Harvard Business School study published last year found Airbnb hosts were prone to discrimination, the service has been dogged with complaints about biased room rentals.

Most of the complaints have focused on the site’s users rather than Airbnb itself; but the company’s reluctance to publicly address the problem did prompt an attempt at a class-action lawsuit.

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