Why Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Commitment Will Backfire

You can’t prove a negative. It’s easy to accuse someone of being racist, since all you need is to allege a single incident. But it’s impossible to defend yourself against such an accusation, because you can never prove you’re not a racist.

Today, Airbnb, the peer-to-peer apartment rental community, announced a “nondiscrimination commitment”. All users, both hosts and guests, are required to agree to an elaborate dictate of do’s and don’ts from November 1st.

However, those who do not wish to commit to Airbnb’s corporate law will be barred from using the site and forced to close their account:

What if I decline the commitment?

If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is canceled, future booked trips will be canceled.

Airbnb believes it must fight incidental discrimination with categorical discrimination. The move undoubtedly seeks to expand Airbnb’s profit margins, but the totalitarian aspect of it will most certainly backfire.

It’s not the case I argue for a right to discriminate. I argue that there is no way to defend yourself against accusations of discrimination. What do you do when you declined renting your home to a disabled person, but not because that person was disabled, yet that person accuses you of discrimination? 

You can’t defend yourself. All it takes is a single accusation and anyone who has agreed to the Airbnb commitment will face legal and financial penalties. It’s called forced compliance. Welcome to Hillary Clinton’s world.

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Why Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Commitment Will Backfire by Mathijs Koenraadt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.