Airbnb has come under congressional
scrutiny, with a group of U.S. lawmakers demanding the company respond to
concerns over the proliferation of limited liability corporations listing units
on the homesharing platform and "deceptive and misleading listings."
In a letter sent to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Nov. 21,
several members of Congress also voiced concern over "the company's failure to
authenticate host identities in a way that would prevent bad actors from
continuing to rent" through the platform.
The letter, which was signed by Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman
(D-NJ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC),
Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), requests a briefing with
The lawmakers said they will ask Airbnb to clarify its
policies and practices during the briefing. They plan to ask the company how it
defines a "host," how it currently vets its hosts, how Airbnb plans to enforce
policy violations, how the company will verify that units meet basic safety
protocols and whether the company’s efforts to categorize "high-risk
reservations" will consider age, race, gender or other personal traits, among
Airbnb's security and support policies have recently come
under fire in the media, after five people were killed at an unauthorized party
at an Airbnb rental on Halloween.
Also, in late October, Vice published a scathing article about Airbnb on its
website, exposing the company’s inadequate response to fraudulent listings.
In response, Airbnb unveiled a battery of policy changes in
They include a pledge to verify all 7 million Airbnb listings by Dec. 15, 2020;
a new guarantee to rebook or refund guests if a listing does not meet accuracy
standards; a 24/7 neighbor hotline for customer support; and renewed efforts to
screen "high-risk" reservations.