BOSTON (CBS) — Many Airbnb hosts may be using information provided in profiles to discriminate against potential renters, a new study from Harvard Business School suggests.
Renters with “African-American sounding” names had a harder time booking reservations on the site than those who had “White-sounding” names, according to the study.
Researchers set up 6,400 fake profiles of Airbnb guests with stereotypical white or black names. The profiles did not include the renters’ photos.
The researchers then used those accounts to book with hosts in five cities: Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.
Requests by profiles the researchers deemed as white guests were accepted 50 percent of the time, while those deemed as back applicants were accepted 42 percent of the time.
The study authors said they controlled for other factors like gender and the renters ratings, which could also sway a host’s decision.