Airbnb combs DC bookings for hate groups before inauguration – CNET


President Donald Trump’s supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021.

Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Airbnb said Monday that it’s scrutinizing its rentals in the Washington, DC, area to ensure no members of hate groups are using its platform during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20. The move is part of the short-term home rental company’s effort to combat violent and discriminatory groups on its site.

Airbnb also said it will ban anyone who’s been identified as involved in the siege on the Capitol last week. On Jan. 6, a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump violently broke into the federal building and forced members of Congress into lockdown. Five people died because of the attack.

“When we learn through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the violent criminal activity at the United States Capitol on January 6, we investigate whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb,” the company said in a blog post. “If the individuals have an Airbnb account, we take action, which includes banning them from using Airbnb.”

Airbnb has dealt with discrimination and hate groups on its platform for years. During the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, the company banned participants from its site after it discovered some of them were throwing parties in its rentals.

Since then, Airbnb has consistently removed people from its site who are associated with violent hate groups. Last week, before the attack at the Capitol, it canceled reservations and banned accounts associated with extremist groups like the Proud Boys. Airbnb also said Monday it will withhold financial donations from those politicians who voted against the certification of Biden’s election.

“Airbnb strongly condemns last week’s attack on the US Capitol and the efforts to undermine our democratic process,” the company said in a statement.

To have an account with Airbnb, all hosts and guests must agree to its “nondiscrimination policy.” If users refuse, Airbnb deactivates their accounts. Since 2016, the company has banned about 1.4 million people for declining to agree to the policy.

In the lead up to the presidential inauguration, Airbnb is taking several additional steps to keep its site free of hate groups. On Monday, it announced a Capitol Safety Plan, a seven-part strategy designed to help protect its users in Washington, DC.

These steps include bans on people involved in the Capitol siege and a thorough review of all of its reservations in the DC area. Airbnb is also requiring all first-time guests to verify their identities and go through background checks. Additionally, the company is notifying DC guests that if it learns they’re involved in any hate groups or plans of violence it could pursue legal action against them.

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