Airbnb user trustworthiness scoring
Occurred: March 2022
An investigation by Australian consumer rights organisation Choice has discovered that Airbnb secretly collects and feeds users’ personal data into an algorithm that assesses whether they are trustworthy enough to make a booking.
Per Choice's report, the patented algorithm is claimed to assess people's personality traits, such as narcissism or conscientiousness, along with behavioural traits, such as use of drugs or alcohol or involvement in civil litigation and other behaviour, and combine them to create a holistic score that judges a person's trustworthiness.'
A February 2020 Vice reported on a legal complaint (pdf) filed by US privacy organisation EPIC alleging that Airbnb's 'opaque' trustworthiness algorithm 'commit[s] unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.'
EPIC also pointed out the algorithm violates the fairness and transparency principles and standards laid out by the OECD and other international organisations.
In May 2021, the Financial Times reported that Airbnb's 'Smart Pricing' algorithm widens racial discrepancies, albeit unintentionally.
Country: Australia; New Zealand; USA
Purpose: Assess trustworthiness
Technology: Behavioural analysis; Personality analysis; Ranking algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - profession/job; Fairness
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Complaints/appeals