Today Airbnb announced, via press release, that all current reservations for the week of the Presidential Inauguration in the Washington, D.C. metro area have been or will be CANCELED. The cancellation also extends to Hotel Tonight reservations. To cement this point, the company will also block any new reservations from being booked during this time. Airbnb also states that guests whose reservations are canceled will be offered a full refund. Additionally, Airbnb will reimburse the hosts for money lost due to the canceled reservations.
This is in response to local, state, and federal officials requesting people not to travel to the city during the time. The press release states, “Airbnb’s work continues to be informed by inputs from our local host community as well as Washington, D.C. officials, Metro Police and Members of Congress throughout this week. In particular, Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan and Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration. Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration”.
The company, through media and law enforcement officials, has learned that several people involved in the activity at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020 used Airbnb host accommodations. The individuals have since been banned from future use of Airbnb services. Airbnb wants to ensure members of hate groups are not a part of their community.
Airbnb announced, two days ago, a seven-step “Capitol Safety Plan” for the Inauguration:
- Banning Individuals Identified as Involved in Criminal Activity at the Capitol: When we learn through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the violent criminal activity at the United States Capitol on January 6, we investigate whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb. This includes cross-referencing the January 6 arrest logs of D.C. Metro Police. If the individuals have an Airbnb account, we take action, which includes banning them from using Airbnb.
- Review of D.C. Area Reservations: We are reviewing reservations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. If we confirm that any guests are associated with a hate group or otherwise not allowed on our platform for violating certain community policies prohibiting violence or engaging in criminal activity, we will cancel those reservations and ban them from Airbnb.
- Booking Requirements: All US residents seeking to book an Airbnb listing must first successfully verify their identity – at times being required to provide their government ID to prove that they are who they say they are. This helps prevent hate group members from hiding behind fake identities.
- Additional Security Checks: Airbnb already runs background checks on all US users when they first begin using the platform, and if additional information comes to light under the Capitol Safety Plan we may re-run background checks or assess against other publicly available sources or databases.
- Guest Engagement and Legal Action: We will be communicating to all booking guests to the Capitol Region that if we learn that they or their additional guests are members of hate groups, planning violence or violating our policies or terms of service, we may bring legal action against them.
- Engaging Our Host Community: Members of hate groups are never welcome on Airbnb and we have previously taken action to remove these individuals from the Airbnb community. We are reminding our host community via email and notifications in our app that if they suspect violations of this policy, they can reach trained crisis staff by calling our Urgent Safety Line.
- Neighbor Support: We have a neighbor support line at airbnb.com/neighbors to connect with Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland neighbors directly if they need to bring issues with reservations to our attention. It includes a 24/7 hotline overseen by highly trained staff.
I would have never thought that the United States of America would be in such disarray. The actions of Airbnb, as well as other companies, are trying to reduce future violence and chaos. Good on them for doing their part to ensure the democratic process continues next week with the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States of America.
Are we still united?