Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

Airbnb Bans White Supremacists – Is This OK?

by Countable | 8.18.17

What's the story?

Following the events in Charlottesville, VA, Airbnb announced that white supremacists would be permanently banned from using the site to book lodging reservations.

The company’s co-founder, Nathan Blecharczyk, told Bloomberg TV that the "hate displayed this week has been shocking."

Blecharczyk said that Airbnb makes "every one of our users sign a pledge when they sign up that they will not discriminate and exhibit hatred. Whenever we become aware of such examples they are permanently banned from platform."

Why does it matter?

The bans started prior to Saturday’s violent Unite the Right event. Leading up the Charlottesville rally, Airbnb quietly began deleting and suspending suspected white supremacists’ accounts. The users were told that they violated Airbnb’s Terms of Service. A spokesperson for the company released a statement to Gizmodo:

"When through our background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behavior 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 has not released information on how they determined which potential renters were white supremacists, though the company states it conducts background checks on its members by looking at sex offender registries and databases of criminal convictions.

Slate also posited that the bans could have been based on Unite the Right attendees organizing housing arrangements on neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

"We’ve taken over all of the large AirBnbs in a particular area," wrote user SCnazi on a Daily Stormer message board. “So far, we’re close to filling our 7th house. We have 80-90 people, and are a mix of various AltRight groups. We've set up ‘Nazi Uber’ and the ‘Hate Van’ to help in moving our people around as needed, esp. between our off-site locations and Charlottesville.”

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky specifically called out so-called "alt-right" groups in his statement, saying that “violence, racism and hatred demonstrated by Neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and white supremacists should have no place in this world.”

Should companies be able to ban people based on their beliefs?

If the question sounds familiar, it may be because a similar one will be taken up next term by the Supreme Court.

In late June, SCOTUS announced it will hear the case of a Denver baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. As the Washington Post observed, this case, and its eventual outcome, are a major test about "weighing religious freedom against discrimination based on sexual orientation." (However, white supremacists, unlike certain groups, are not a protected class.)

Returning to the Airbnb matter, let’s consider that right-leaning outlets like the National Review have run headlines reading "The Women’s March and Black Lives Matter Embrace Terrorists." Suppose Airbnb was run by these organizations: should they be allowed to ban BLM protestors from booking rentals?

Similarly, there’s the question of whether Facebook and Twitter should ban users who disseminate hate speech. (Twitter has said it’s trying to curb harassment and last month reported that it’s working to "limit account functionality or place suspensions on thousands more abusive accounts each day").

There’s also the slippery slope argument. A Reddit user by the name of "pfthrowaway21315" wondered what would happen if all hotel chains banned white supremacists, asking, “Are they never entitled to stay in a hotel room for the rest of their lives? Expand that to grocery stores. A grocery store would be within its legal right to ban a white supremacist, but what if that was the only place that they could get food in their town?”

As to a response to the ban, a Twitter user known as "the worst dude" posted a ban letter from Airbnb, and wrote “people shouldn't just #boycottairbnb they should sue @airbnb

What do you think?

Should Airbnb, and other private companies, be able to ban people based on their beliefs? Comment below, and Tweet Airbnb.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: GoodLifeStudio via iStockphoto)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(150)
  • Andy1
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes. They have a responsibility to protect their customers from these hate groups. Private companies are not held to the same free speech standards that the government is and this is different from religious groups denying service to LGBTQ individuals because they are not advocating violence towards others. If the alt-right didn't want this backlash they should have stayed in the shadows or should move to a place where hate is tolerated- I'll buy their plane tickets to North Korea myself.

    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
  • Tom
    08/18/2017
    ···

    The entire country should ban white supremacist! You're asking if this is ok? Please explain how it is NOT ok to ban them.

    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
  • Carrie
    08/18/2017
    ···

    YES. Freedom of speech is not freedom from the consequences.

    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
  • Bluewitsend
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes, I feel Nazi's have no place in our society and should have completely disbanded when they lost WWII. White supremacists and KKK should have disbanded when they lost the Civil War. As far as I'm concerned all of these groups are treasonous and should be labeled as domestic terror groups.

    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
  • Ruth
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Make no mistake, White Supremacists, KKK, neo-nazis, neo-confederates have only one purpose, to advance their ideology by squashing dissenters. They are intolerant people and will not tolerate discussion of opposing view points. They are heavily armed. They have made no secret of the fact they will kill to advance their agenda and have done so as we so recently saw. The nazis exterminated millions, we fought a world war over this. The confederates subjugated a whole race of people forcing them to live under inhumane conditions killing them with impunity when they saw fit. We fought a war over this and they lost. The KKK strung up, burned, tortured blacks when ever they saw fit. The were forced under ground due to forceful back lash. Yes I think this is justified. They can not view their agenda as legitimate. Making it difficult for them to congregate in large numbers is very appropriate. It will save lives.

    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
  • Nancy kaye
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Don't be ridiculous. They have every right. Even the corner grocery store can have a sign "No shoes. No shirt. No service." Please don't even think that a company can not ban filthy hate speech and the people who shout it.

    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
  • BigBrian249
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes, they have every right to protect their providers from renting to people who advocate violence against minorities and the violent overthrow of the United States government.

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • Cynthia
    08/19/2017
    ···

    Per one commentor, Antifa was born to fight AGAINST the Nazi/ fascists/ WS. Black lives Matter was born because of all the police killings of black citizens. NOT the same and not hate groups no matter what Fox and Rupert Murdoch says. I don't want a bunch of guys with automatic weapons staying in my house and finding out I'm a "commie liberal environmental extremist". I'd be terrified I wouldnt last the night. Not the same as not baking a cake.

    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
  • Gail
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Unlike most of the posters here so far, I do not think a company has the right to refuse business to anyone they want. This encourages discrimination, which could be incredibly varied as it would just be a matter of which bias a particular employee has. I do not think the town clerk who refused to sign the marriage license for the gay couple should have been allowed to keep her job. She has a job to do and refused to do it. If her religious beliefs prevented her from doing so, then she is in the wrong job. She needed to get a job of a different nature that would not require her to interact with customers she might judge. I never want to see "blacks or Irish need not apply ever again." However, if a person comes into an establishment with a weapon, a business is entitled to ask them to leave because they can have a no weapon policy even in an open carry state. The Airbnb situation is different from the wedding cake one in that no harm is coming to the baker. Airbnb does have to insure that participants are safe from harm. If the intent to do violence has been made explicit, which it has by many white supremists et al, then it is proactive and intelligent for the company to avoid the risk to customer safety. The success of their business depends on people feeling completely safe, whether they are renters or landlords. I think in this particular case Airbnb is being responsible to their clients. The real threat of violence is the key here, not someone's ideology or religious beliefs. I do not belief a company should be able to refuse to do business with anyone according to either of those because that would indeed be a slippery slope.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Kodiwodi
    08/18/2017
    ···

    You bet. They are protecting their customers' safety. If the renter cannot meet the terms of AirB&B then they are just out of luck. You can't scream I'm a Nazi and bitch that you're being discriminated against.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Truly
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes, just like they wouldn't work with known members of ISIS.

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jay
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Neo Nazis, White Supremacists and the KKK have and deserve no rights. They cannot be tolerated in any way, shape or form and should be banned from everything imaginable in society. America has LITERALLY fought multiple wars over this. We figured this one out correctly already, people. How is this even a subject for debate? When a group's "beliefs" include the murder of other groups they permanently forfeit a seat at the table of society.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Abbi
    08/19/2017
    ···

    If the white supremacists want only white people at their houses then they need to create their own network, but people paid money only to get rejected at the last minute for their race, so good on them for banning it.

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jennifer
    08/18/2017
    ···

    It seems like Nazi and white supremacist groups would support AirBnB and its discrimination and refusal of service. Aren't these groups themselves based on hate and discrimination? Perhaps if white supremacists don't want to be discriminated against, they shouldn't practice discrimination. Treat others how you want to be treated.

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Judith
    08/19/2017
    ···

    I THINK BANNING PEOPLE ON THEIR BEHAVIOR IS ALREADY AVAILABLE TO BUSINESSES AS IT IS. IF RACISTS OR NATZIS Etc. COME IN TO THEIR ESTABLISHMENT AND START HARASSING THE CLIENTELE OR DAMAGING PROPERTY OR FOULING THE ROOMS, THEY CAN CALL THE COPS AND KICK THEM OUT. THEN LIST THEM AS TROUBLEMAKERS FOR DENYING THEM SERVICE IN THE FUTURE. LIKE THE NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, NO SERVICE, LAWS INSTITUTED IN THE HIPPY ERA. BANNING SOMEONE FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS OVER REACH I BELIEVE. EVEN FOR A NATZI, RASIST, WHITE SUPREMACIST, SCUM BAG !! EVEN THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEACH AS LONG AS THEY DON'T TRY TO HARASS OR ATTACK ANYONE !!

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Loc
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes. All companies and institution need to take a stand against hate groups. If they want to have a little meeting in their basement or around a bonfire, go ahead. When they're actively trying to disrupt and harm others, the more obstacles the better.

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • John
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Not only ok it's laudable!

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Bill
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Terrific! The more entities that reject these racist & exclusionist individuals and certainly their groups, the better off the world will be!

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • S
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Deirdre
    08/18/2017
    ···

    Yes because as a company they have to protect their customers from harm.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share