Airbnb Will Hide Guest Names in Test Program to Prevent Racial Bias

The policy change will be tested for residents of the state of Oregon and be fully implemented by Jan. 31.

Airbnb is hiding potential guests' names in a test program in Oregon in an effort to prevent racial bias and discrimination going forward.

The policy change will be tested for residents of the state of Oregon and be fully implemented by Jan. 31, replacing a guest's name with their initials, according to Airbnb. Hosts will only be able to see a guest's full name after a booking is confirmed.

The policy will remain in effect for at least two years.

"Airbnb has no tolerance for discrimination, and we have taken a number of steps to help fight bias," the company wrote.

Airbnb said the policy change was "consistent with the voluntary settlement agreement we reached in 2019 with individuals in Oregon who raised concerns regarding the way guests' names are displayed when they seek to book a listing." That lawsuit was brought by three Black plaintiffs who argued Airbnb allowed hosts to discriminate against customers based on race, NBC News reported.

Portland, Oregons downtown district
xiao zhou/Getty Images

The company said it would use lessons learned from the new policy "to inform future efforts to fight bias."

But Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco told NBC News in a statement the program would so far be limited to Oregon "Given that the impact of this change is unknown."

Airbnb said it has made additional efforts to address bias by changing the way profile photos are displayed "to encourage more objective bookings" and launching "Project Lighthouse," a research effort aimed at informing the best ways to "help combat racial discrimination and bias that Black users and other people of color have faced when using Airbnb."

"While we have made progress, we have much more to do and continue working with our Hosts and guests, and with civil rights leaders to make our community more inclusive," the company wrote.

This isn't the first time Airbnb has changed its policy. In 2019, for example, the company vowed to implement stricter rules on house parties following a fatal shooting at a California rental property, which it has continued to apply to this day.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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