The company has shut down accounts belonging to some members of the alt-right ahead of a major nationalist protest in Virginia.
A horde of nationalists are headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend for the Unite the Right rally, where alt-right powerhouses Richard Spencer and Baked Alaska will speak in protest of the city's decision to tear down a Confederate statue. Folks from all over the country are flying in for the event—but now it looks like some won't have anywhere to stay.
Airbnb has reportedly banned a handful of attendees who had made bookings in the Charlottesville area for violating its terms of service, Gizmodo reports. At least two individuals have had their accounts irrevocably deleted by the company and claim they were booted for their far-right views.
While it's unclear how Airbnb could screen its users for their political leanings, it does conduct background checks on both hosts and guests by digging through criminal records databases, sex offender registries, and OFAC lists. Still, the procedure wouldn't necessarily be able to uncover what a prospective guest might be planning to do that weekend.
In any case, Airbnb explained in a statement to Gizmodo that it will remove users who don't comply with the company's "Community Commitment," or nondiscrimination clause. The company established that agreement in November 2016 in an effort to dissuade hosts from discriminating against guests based on race, religion, age, or gender. Now the company says it's using that clause to decide who can and can't use the platform.
In 2016 we established the Airbnb Community Commitment reflecting our belief that to make good on our mission of belonging, those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age. We asked all members of the Airbnb to affirmatively sign on to this commitment. When through our background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behaviour on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform.
Airbnb's decision to ban the users was "irreversible and will affect any future or duplicate accounts," the company wrote in an email to one of the rebuffed customers. It added that it's "not obligated to provide an explanation" for deleting the accounts.
"Airbnb is, at its core, an open community dedicated to bringing the world closer together by fostering meaningful, shared experiences among people from all parts of the world," the company's nondiscrimination clause reads. "Bias, prejudice, racism, and hatred have no place on our platform or in our community."
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Update 8/7: This post has been updated to include a photo of the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, replacing a photo of a June 4 protest in Portland, Oregon.