Airbnb bans listings where enslaved people used to live or work
Airbnb will no longer allow people to rent out houses where enslaved people formerly lived or worked, according to the company's new anti-discrimination policy.
The platform's policy, which provided an update on its "Work to fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion," follows backlash Airbnb received in July over a "1830s slave cabin" listing that went viral on TikTok.
In a section labeled "Prohibiting the Glorification and Marketing of Slavery," the company states that in July 2022 it "took a series of steps to address the listing of properties in the US that were known to include former slave houses" which "have no place on Airbnb."
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The online marketplace, which facilitates short-term housing and apartment rentals, immediately removed listings that included former slave houses and started working with experts such as historic preservation architect Jobie Hill "to address other US-based properties and Experiences associated with slavery."
The new policy prohibits "the listing of any home or other structure on a former plantation where enslaved people lived or worked, if structures that existed during the time of slavery are still present on the property," bars "any structure specifically designed only to house enslaved people and that did house enslaved people ("slave houses")" and prohibits "the promotion of slavery-related features as a selling point of a stay."
Airbnb said it is in the process of implementing the new policies and assessing listings that may be impacted.
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"We also recognize that Experiences on our platform can provide important educational context, and when undertaken with reputable partners and experts, we will permit the listing of certain educational tours of slave houses, former slave plantations, and other slavery-related sites in the US," the policy added. "We continue to work with established experts to develop the necessary criteria for slavery-related educational Experiences."
Airbnb has removed roughly 30 listings and experiences in violation of the policy, Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit told BuzzFeed News.
The viral TikTok, posted by lawyer Wynton Yates, described the listing as "not OK in the least bit," asking how it's okay to rent out "a place where human beings were kept as slaves" as a bed and breakfast.
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The property, called the "Panther Burn Cottage" on the Belmont Plantation, was described in the listing as "an 1830s slave cabin" that "has also been used as a tenant sharecroppers cabin," according to the TikTok.
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