Individuals who are “closely associated” with already-banned users on Airbnb will be denied access

Due to their close connections to other customers that the short-term rental firm removed off the platform due to safety concerns, Airbnb has decided to restrict individuals from using its platform. This decision exposes Airbnb’s shoddy security measures. Because of their simple affiliation with other customers that the short-term rental firm has considered a safety concern and removed from the platform, Airbnb is prohibiting users from utilising its platform. This decision exposes Airbnb’s shoddy security measures. A user can only rejoin the site after being banned due to their “close association” with another problematic user if that problematic acquaintance successfully appeals to the ban or can demonstrate that they are not “closely associated.”

A spokesman for Airbnb told Motherboard in a statement that the business occasionally restricts customers if it determines that they “are likely to travel” with someone else who has already been banned, but they did not specify when this practice began or how frequently it happens. The corporation described this as a “necessary safety precaution,” and a spokeswoman claimed it is extremely “simplistic” to characterise such restrictions as the result of simple association.

Airbnb is banning people 'likely to travel' with prohibited users
Credits: Yahoo News

Airbnb places higher priority on user safety

But, the procedure seems mysterious; only last month, the business issued an apology and acknowledged that it had “mistakenly” barred the parents of right-wing activist Lauren Southern. To dispel worries that the platform puts visitors or hosts at risk, Airbnb has recently placed a higher priority on user safety on its global network. Following many shootings and fatalities, the corporation banned parties and vowed to take legal action against violators.

The business has discreetly conducted background checks on its customers for the past ten years. These have been finished since 2016 by a third-party business that advertises on its website that it can finish background checks in just 0.3 seconds. The speed is necessary since there are 6.6 million current postings on the site, but it also results in bans for insignificant offences like a decade-old misdemeanour involving a loose dog.

According to Airbnb, the system is not flawless, and an appeals procedure is in place for those who believe they have been wrongfully barred. But, Motherboard’s chats with banned users reveal that the procedure is frequently constrained and upsetting to them. The bans by association highlight how hard (and maybe impossible) it is to bar dangerous people from Airbnb hosts’ houses without offending connected users who believe their own bans are unreasonable.

If safety inspections are not considered then it may risk endangering its hosts and visitors

In January, for example, Airbnb contacted a user called Amanda to warn her that the business had banned her from the site because the account was “closely associated with a person who isn’t allowed to use Airbnb,” according to communications examined by Motherboard. The business then said that the user might challenge the ban.“If we find that you are not closely associated with a person who isn’t allowed to use Airbnb, we may restore your account. If not, your account will remain removed from Airbnb,” the firm said.

Amanda filed an appeal against the prohibition, claiming she was attempting to reserve an Airbnb for a cheer competition in which her friend’s daughter was competing. Two days later, the business said it had finished its investigation and, after “careful thought,” was maintaining the restriction to “safeguard our community.” When pressed further, the business stated that it would “not be able to give more help on this situation at this time.”

Amanda admitted to Motherboard using her boyfriend’s credit card to pay for the rental. She said that although she had no criminal history, her partner has, telling Motherboard that it was “a white collar charge,” but she did not elaborate. Amanda clarified that she and her partner share neither their residence nor a bank account.

The bans by association serve as yet another reminder that there isn’t a flawless method for a network this size. If Airbnb doesn’t conduct safety inspections, it may risk endangering its hosts and visitors. But, as Amanda’s situation demonstrates, there are valid concerns over how much is too far.