If you’re an Airbnb user and you happen to be black, there’s a very real chance you will be rejected from at least some of your stay requests.
Black users are fighting back against the company’s racist users with the #AirbnbWhileBlack hashtag on Twitter.
That trending topic on social media could become a big problem for the booking site.
“My friends and are all well-educated, paid, etc.,” said one user. “But I’m getting denied solely bc of my name/how I look. That’s hard.”
My friends and are all well-educated, paid, etc., but I'm getting denied solely bc of my name/how I look. That's hard. #AirbnbWhileBlack
— Q. (@TinaLaBang) April 29, 2016
Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent at Slate, has good reviews from his previous stays, yet he is approved for only 25% of attempted bookings on the platform.
“For cities we visit frequently, I end up staying with the same host, which has streamlined things considerably,” Bouie explained on Twitter.
For cities we visit frequently, I end up staying with the same host, which has streamlined things considerably.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) April 29, 2016
This isn’t just a bunch of angry users venting. A Harvard study published last year found that Airbnb hosts are less likely to rent to guests with African American sounding names.
For its part Airbnb has acknowledged the problem. “We recognize that bias and discrimination present significant challenges, and we are taking steps to address them,” David King, head of diversity at Airbnb, said in a statement.
The Harvard study says the heart of the problem lies in Airbnb’s setup which shows renters a photo of the renter before they agree to rent their place.
King says the photos likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. “[They] and are one of the many tools that help hosts and guests connect with one another,” he said.
In the meantime, millions of Twitter users are now checking out #AirbnbWhileBlack.
— G. Sel (@_GSelden) May 4, 2016