Airbnb has come up with a new policy change that it hopes will help the company win over users of color after months of racist complaints.
Monday’s announcement comes after the NAACP partnered with the company last year to recruit Black hosts, increase workplace diversity and create economic opportunities for communities of color.
Airbnb’s new damage control method involves a policy amendment that prohibits rental hosts from seeing the photos of potential guests until after they have accepted a booking. Essentially, the policy will dissuade against hosts being able to learn the race of guests from their photos when considering bookings. In this way, the rule will encourage colorblind decisions about who will rent homes.
The previous policy allowed rental hosts to ask for guest photos as identification before closing a rental contract or accepting a booking. Hosts were able to view guest photos as a prerequisite to finalizing a booking.
Guests are not required to share photos of themselves as part of the online home-sharing site’s policies. But now, hosts have the option to ask for photos only after they make rental agreements.
“We have listened to our community, and while most guests provide a photo, some guests told us they don’t want to share a picture of themselves when booking,” the San Francisco-based online home-sharing company said in a news release on Monday. “We also recognize that concerns have been raised about the potential for photos to be misused in a way that violates our nondiscrimination policy.”
The company has had several racist incidents connected to it since it began in 2008. In April, police confronted Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of Bob Marley, and her two friends while leaving an Airbnb home in California. Neighbors of the Airbnb host who had rented a house to Prendergast and her friends called the cops on them.
Airbnb had been working to stop racial discrimination through its partnership with the NAACP. Executives also enlisted help from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to assist in creating a nondiscrimination policy for all hosts and guests, Think Progress reported.