Airbnb says it may ban users who are ‘likely to travel’ with people who have already been banned

Airbnb says it may ban users who are ‘likely to travel’ with people who have already been banned

Airbnb has confirmed it will ban people who are “likely to travel” with users who have already been banned.

On 2 March, Vice reported that the rental company had been banning users from the platform on the sole basis that they were found to be associated with another, problematic user.

According to Vice, the users who were subsequently banned could only return to the platform if their previously banned acquaintance successfully appealed the ban, or if they were able to prove they are not “closely associated”.

A spokesperson for Airbnb confirmed the report in a statement to Vice, in which the short-term rental company said that users may be banned if they are “likely to travel” with a user who has already been banned.

The company referred to the practice as a “necessary safety precaution,” but claimed it was overly “simplistic” to suggest that the bans are solely due to association with a banned user.

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for Airbnb confirmed that, “if a person has been removed from Airbnb for safety reasons,” in “certain circumstances,” the company may “also take action to restrict the accounts of people who are likely to travel with that person,” and that the precaution extends to “any type of safety-related issue”.

The Airbnb spokesperson also offered an example scenario where a ban would be enacted, such as if a person booking an upcoming reservation used the same credit card as a person who was previously banned from the platform for a “serious safety incident”.

“For example, if someone is removed for a serious safety incident during an Airbnb reservation and we need to remove them and cancel their future reservations, and we then find that someone re-books the exact same future reservation with the same credit card number, we will remove the second account,” the spokesperson said, adding: “As an online platform that facilitates real-world travel and connections, this is a necessary safety precaution.”

Although the spokesperson did not state when the company began banning users associated with other banned users, CNET noted that Airbnb relies on a “background check system” to review its users.

According to Airbnb’s website, the company performs background checks on guests “10 days before the check-in date of their reservation,” and on hosts after the users login after creating a listing, or when a stay is booked.

As for what the background checks look for, Airbnb said the individual’s identity is checked against public records such as the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of terrorists and narcotics traffickers.

Additionally, identities of users in the US are vetted using “certain databases of public state and county criminal records as well as state and national sex offender registries”.

Airbnb said removal “depends on the severity of the criminal history,” with the company noting that “lesser crimes” such as “disorderly conduct or marijuana possession” are “not removable offenses,” while cases of “murder, terrorism, rape or child molestation may result in permanent removal”.

If a user feels like they have been unfairly banned, Airbnb reportedly offers an appeals process, according to CNET.

The latest insight into Airbnb’s safety precautions comes after the company announced in June 2022 it had permanently banned parties.

At the time, Airbnb said there would be “serious consequences” for guests who breach the party ban, varying from the suspension of their account to being permanently removed from the platform.