Harvard Study Suggests Airbnb Has A Racism Problem

Two Harvard Business School professors say Airbnb’s layout and user design make it easier for users to discriminate against black people.

The Daily Dot reports that in a study called “Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com,” Benjamin Edelman and Michael Luca
argue that the use of oversize profile photos makes Airbnb users unable to avoid the colour of the homeowner’s skin.

The result? People are less likely to rent homes from black hosts. In turn, black hosts are forced to rent their homes for 12% less.

The basis for the findings comes from data on New York City landlords in 2012. Nevertheless, the two have maintained that “these differences highlight the risk of discrimination in online marketplaces, suggesting an important intended consequence of a seemingly-routine mechanism for building trust.”

In a statement to Re/code, Airbnb says it is “committed to making Airbnb the most open, trusted, diverse, transparent community in the world,” and reiterating that its “Terms of Service prohibits content that discriminates.”

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