Airbnb is facing a backlash for failing to take immediate action after a transgender woman was denied accommodation by a host because of her gender identity. It took a tweet by the customer to go viral before Airbnb took action against the host, who was eventually blacklisted from the website.
TV producer Shadi Petrosky posted a tweet of her exchange with a Minneapolis-based Airbnb host from 2015, in which she was refused lodgings after disclosing she was trans. The host said she was worried her 13-year-old-son would be uncomfortable with Petrosky in the house, but thanked her for her "honesty".
Petrosky claimed that after she reported the incident to Airbnb, the company failed to remove the host from the home-sharing service. Later, Airbnb upgraded the host's subscription to "super-host", which rewards users who consistently get five-star reviews from guests.
Despite complaining to the company last year, it was only after Petrosky's tweet went viral on Monday (6 June) that Airbnb finally took action and suspended the host. Nick Pappas, the company's public affairs director, said in a statement: "Discrimination has no place in the Airbnb community. We are removing this host from Airbnb."
Petrosky told the Guardian that when she initially complained to Airbnb, the company asked her to identify the host but appeared to take no further action.
Airbnb has found itself under heavy fire recently for failing to address discrimination on its platform, despite the fact the company's own policies prohibit "discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group".
In another recent, high-profile case, a Airbnb host in the US was banned from the platform after sending racist messages to a college student seeking a temporary stay in Charlotte, in North Carolina.
Airbnb has since confirmed it is planning an in-depth review of how hosts and guests interact with each other on the platform in an attempt to fight discrimination.
Pappas said: "We are conducting a comprehensive review and examining what can be done to ensure we resolve these kinds of issues quickly and help make sure everyone is treated fairly."