Airbnb Is Banning People Who Are 'Closely Associated' With Already-Banned Users• https://www.vice.com, By Maxwell Strachan
Airbnb is banning people from using its site because of their mere association with other users the short-term rental company has deemed a safety risk and removed from the platform, a decision that highlights the imperfect security protocols that Airbnb employs.
In instances where a user is banned because of their association with another user deemed problematic, the user can only return to the platform if their problematic acquaintance successfully appeals the ban or if they are able to prove they are not "closely associated."
In a statement, Airbnb confirmed to Motherboard that it does sometimes ban users because the company has discovered that they "are likely to travel" with another person who has already been banned, though a spokesperson wouldn't say when this practice started or how often it occurs. The company said it does this as a "necessary safety precaution," and a spokesperson said referring to such bans as merely a result of association is overly "simplistic." But the process appears opaque; just this month, the company apologized and said it had made a "mistake" in banning the parents of right-wing activist Lauren Southern.
In recent years, Airbnb has prioritized the safety of the users on its international platform in an effort to combat concern that the platform puts either guests or hosts at risk. The company has publicized a decision to permanently ban parties after a series of shootings and deaths and threatened legal action against guests who break the rule.
More quietly, for a decade now, the company has had background checks completed on its users. Since 2016, they have been completed by a third-party service that claims on its website to complete background checks in less than 0.3 seconds. The speed is a necessity——the site has 6.6 million active listings—but it also leads to bans over matters as trivial as a decade-old misdemeanor related to an unleashed dog.