Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Orting, WA
Level 7
4,402 Views

AirBnB’s new “no pic needed” policy is HORRIBLE and dangerous to hosts and guests. It leave hosts with no way of knowing that the person checking in is the person who actually booked the reservation, without rudely asking to see a picture ID. I was told the policy change was to “combat racism” by an AirBnB rep. I can’t think of anything more dangerous to both hosts and guests than AirBnB sending people of color to stay at some racist host’s house (who would have previously just looked at their profile pic and declined their reservation). Instead AirBnb is endangering people of color by sending them to confront such racists IN PERSON and in ignorance.

 

Also, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community it’s not safe for me and my husband to book places to stay for ourselves without making it clear we’re a gay couple. It could get us beaten and killed, especially overseas. AirBnB’s new “no pic policy” endangers LGBTQ+ people who don’t bother posting a pic of themselves for bigoted hosts to see them as a couple (and decline the booking). Instead, we can now show up as a gay couple unexpectedly to a bigot’s house and be confronted with their hate.

 

It’s clear that whoever formulated this new “no pic required” policy has zero understanding of the safety and liability issues involved for both guests and hosts. Please require pics so everyone can get back the small measure of protection they provide for all involved!

61 Replies

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
La Quinta, CA
Level 10

@Daniel2195  It might be that you are operating on some old information.  Please see the post about the January update regarding profile pics.  Made me feel better and it may also make you feel safer as well.  Hope so 😄

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Linda108 I think you misread Daniels post- he HATES the new policy, he WANTS hosts to see his profile photo with his husband, which is proof that even guests who may be discriminated against because of their race, sexual orientation, etc, woud prefer being discriminated against BEFORE their booking is accepted, rather than show up somewhere, only to be met with bigoted vibes. 

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Orting, WA
Level 7

Exactly! I’d rather get declined for a reservation than beaten or killed! Most people would. But apparently AirBnB would rather endanger people’s lives...

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Daniel2195 They keep claiming this is to cut down on discrimination, but what you're saying here is what I've been saying about this issue all along. I'm not personally in a demographic that would normally face discrimination, unless someone has something against middle/older-age Caucasion women (not evident from my photo that I'm Jewish), but I certainly have plenty of friends of color and various sexual persuasions, and there's no way they'd want to unknowingly book with a predjudiced host only to face discrimination on their arrrival.

All this is about, is Airbnb wanting it to be virtually effortless for guests to book- no profile photo, no verifications, instant book, done. Fast money in the Airbnb coffers.

Cloaking it as being about anti-discrimination is vile.

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Ballinakill, Ireland
Level 5

@Sarah977 I totally agree with the last three lines of your post

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

Hi  @Daniel, you as the host will see the profile picture after you have confirmed the guest. The profile picture will only be blocked when the guest sends an inquiry/requests to book. So you will still see who will be showing up at your place, only after the booking is confirmed. If you are not pleased with their profile picture and feel uncomfortable you can call Airbnb to cancel, just as you have always been able to do. 

As a guest how would a host know that you are traveling with your husband by looking at your current profile picture? Unless you specifically told them in the initial message. Just curious. In my opinion, commication exchanged between host and guest is far more important than a photo.

 

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Orting, WA
Level 7

The problem still stands. POC (people of color) and racist hosts are still placed into uncomfortable  and dangerous situations because pics are now disallowed until confirmation, and not a requirement at all. For racist hosts they are being tricked into accepting guests they don’t want, and may react to upon arrival. Their only other option is cancelling the reservation and loosing their AirBnB rankings. On the flip side, guests of color are having a protection (racist hosts not accepting them as guests based on their profile pics) removed, and are then being thrown into a volatile situation, in person, on arrival. 

 

To answer your LGBTQ+ question, many of us purposefully put “couples” pics into our guest profiles to weed out homophobic hosts from accepting us. As a host myself I state that my husband and I are a couple - knowing that LGBTQ+ guests will note that and realize they are welcome and among friends. It’s sort of an unspoken language LGBTQ+ folks have for our own safety. Such couple’s pics also make it clear to bigotted hosts what they’re dealing with so they can decline to host us, and we as gay guests don’t wind up in dangerous situations because they “didn’t know” we were gay.

 

This is a serious safety issue for hosts and guests. As to “seeing pics after confirmation” my understanding is that AirBnB is now no longer requiring profile pics at all. Basically, as a host, that leaves me with no means of identifying people when they show up on my property. Is it even the person who booked? The only way for me to know is by demanding to see an ID if they don’t choose to upload a profile pic.

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Orting, WA
Level 7

My understanding is that profile pics are not required at all. People may choose to have an accurate profile pic or not.  Without one I have no way of knowing if the person showing up to my home is the person I booked, or not. Unless I demand to see an ID (and it’s not just a fake).

 

For POC (people of color) their profile pic can save them from being booked by racist hosts. The racist simply declines their request and both folks move on. Now, with no pic required, if they don’t choose to have a profile pic of themselves, they may show up to stay in that racists house instead. Horrible and unsafe for AirBnB to do to anyone, let alone guests of color!

 

So far as LGBTQ+ folks go, we often put “couple pics” into our guest profiles for safety reasons. Doing so keeps homophobes from accidentally encountering us without realizing we’re a couple. As a host I mention my husband in my host profile very purposefully to let other LGBTQ+ people know they are welcome and safe. It’s one of the safety measures many LGBTQ+ people take, along with other “leaving clues” such as wearing rainbow pins or pink triangles in profile pics - to ward off bigots and let other LGBTQ+ people know we’re safe.

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 4

I think you missed everything that Daniel said and I fully agree with him. You don't want to see the picture AFTER you have to accept a reservation - You want to see the photo BEFORE you decide if you will accept or not . As your eyes is the last one of your senses that nature gave you to and connected to your 'gut' feel. Even if I don't have a color , religion or gay or straight issue , I will NOT allow somone in my house that still has that 'morning-fresh off the herion needle look ' into my house!

AND if you then dare and cancel the reservation AFTER it was accepted , YOU - the HOST gets PUNISHED by loosing your SuperHost status and by being unable to make super host status BECAUSE of your 'cancelation' ?? So the HOSTS, who are the very reason WHY Airbnb EXIST , are NOT protected - ONLY the guest are! In that case turn it all around and tell me how many guest do you think would book with you if they could not see who YOU are and what YOUR house look like?

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Melbourne, FL
Level 3

I just received an instant booking with a profile picture of, I believe, a barracuda - the fish. How can this be?

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Hamilton, Canada
Level 4

I use photos as a tool for screening my guests. Our experience is that many of the younger guests, especially ones without reviews, tend to try to use our place to drink and party with their friends. Removing the photo before booking, will mean a lot of extra work in the screening process for ALL guests, rather than just the younger ones. I tend to use different lines of questioning, and am far more thorough in screening the younger ones as to their intentions for our place. In fact, we tended to automatically deny guests with new profiles, no photo and no reviews. Now that there will be no photo available, I will be far less likely to take a chance on new members who have no reviews. I find this to be unfortunate for newbies, as it will be more difficult for them to become established in the community. I think this new policy is a terrible idea.

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Orting, WA
Level 7

I’m right there with you on it. I’ve avoided several “party kids” because of their profile pics. One even had a huge bottle of jack and wore a bikini in her profile pic, while explaining in her inquiry that she wanted to rent from us because it was her 21st birthday weekend (the drinking age in U.S.). Needless to say I saw that and declined the Inquiry.

 

I do often accept “new to AirBnB” guests, if their reason for staying seems resonable and their profile pic seems like a decent person. Now, well, doubtful I’ll continue doing so if I can’t even see what they look like or know whether the person that shows up is even the person I booked. Again, AirBnB seems to be saying in their new policy that profile pics aren’t required.

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Daniel2195

I am really struggling with your argument that this no-photo policy is potentially dangerous.  I can understand the logic but I can't fully rationalise it.  Efforts to combat discrimination have been on-going in all spheres of life for many years, at least in western democratic countries, so it's not like Airbnb is exactly breaking the mold.  For example,  it has been standard practice for a long time that job applications should not include a photograph.   Of course, it is a different scenario when you are inviting or being invited into someone's home as a paying guest and I get that.  Equating POC and LBGTQ people in this regard is not helpful.  I can't tell from a photo whether you're gay or not.  Whereas if you're black, it's pretty bloody obvious.  

 

You say:

"One even had a huge bottle of jack and wore a bikini in her profile pic, while explaining in her inquiry that she wanted to rent from us because it was her 21st birthday weekend (the drinking age in U.S.). Needless to say I saw that and declined the Inquiry."

 

What difference did the photo make in this instance?  Would you have considered accepting the booking if her photo showed her cute High School photo, all fresh-faced and buttoned up to the neck?  I'm guessing no.  You declined her because she wanted to have a party and no photo was necessary for you to make that decision.  Most hosts would have done exactly the same!

 

I like to see a photo when a guest makes a booking or sends an enquiry, it's true.  There is something reassuring about it - they have made an effort to create a profile and that gives the impression that they do not treat the platform as some anonymous hotel-like system.  However, I place far more emphasis on what they say in their message and what is written in their profile.  However, far more guests have no information in their profile than guests without a photo, in my experience.   It's much easier to click 'upload' than to take time to write a few sentences, after all.

 

 

Re: Horrible And Dangerous New Profile Pic Policy

in
Hamilton, Canada
Level 4

@ Rebecca

Well, here’s a story for you. I Had guests recently who robbed us, smoked all over our home, ashing cigarettes on practically every surface of our home including our sofa throw rugs and beds, and wore dirty, muddy, salty shoes and boots throughout our home. The guy booking requested a 4 night stay. He was local, and had a new profile with no reviews which promppted us to heavier questioning as to why he would require our home, and what his intentions were. He fed us a story about burst pipes and flooding in his house so he needed somewhere local to stay during clean up and repairs. He said he was coming from another AirBnB, but had to check out as another guest was booked. We felt bad for the guy and accepted him. As soon as I saw his picture,  I didn’t like his look, and Stephan agreed with me. He was hard. He was posturing in his selfie with a tough guy, white-dude-wanna-be-gangsta look about him. I didn’t like his eyes. They looked dark to me. It’s a guy I would try to avoid if I encountered him on the street. And trust me, I’m not sheltered. I grew up in Detroit in a rough area.

Because of this feeling, we had our neighbour watch the house for us ( he already does, but we told him how we felt so that he would be extra keen). They didn’t have extra guests over,  or make any noise violations so everything appeared ok from the outside. But, When I went in to clean, I was hit with a wall of smoke! I was distracted so much by the horrible smell  that I didn’t start to notice our missing items till later. We’re at roughly $2000 worth of theft and damages. They tampered with and disabled one of our locks, and even tried to take our 50” smart tv, but it was mounted to the wall and they couldn’t get it off.

Had I seen his photo up front, I would have denied his request based on my gut. Airbnb makes penalties so severe  for cancellations though that we allowed it, and thought asking the neighbours to watch out would be enough. Lesson learned. Surveillance cameras are going up.  

I have a lot of concern for those who are home sharing their listing. Shouldn’t host’s have an opportunity to use their gut to decide who they want to trust in their home BEFORE they agree to the booking? Pictures can go a LONG way in providing that gut feeling, I assure you. I didn’t like the look of another of our guests who abused our home by throwing a party, trashing our place, and damaging our furniture. I only accepted her because she had several good reviews. I’ve learned to go with my gut, but AirBnB made that exceedingly difficult for me. I find this policy to be negligent of hosts safety. I think that, not only should we be allowed to see a photo, but it should be a rule that the photo match their picture on their Gov ID. AND that guests can’t change the photo, unless they are submitting a new gov. ID, in which case the new photo must match the new  ID.  (Like  when the ID expires, and a new one is being updated.) this would give me more piece of mind that guests are who they’re representing themselves to be

 

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