Soon Your Social Media Posts Could Keep You From Booking An Airbnb

The U.S. government scans the social media accounts of foreign visitors who want to enter the country. Employers scour social media posts before offering candidates a job. And what you post in social media gets scooped up and analyzed in order to advertise to you.

Soon our digital footprint may be used to determine whether or not we can travel. In particular Airbnb may use this information to determine how likely you are to trash the home you want to rent.

Airbnb has filed a patent with the European Patent Office for new “trait analyser” software which will use artificial intelligence evaluate people who are “associated with” things like drugs, sex work, and hate websites. The system will crawl your online persona including video and photos across the internet, to determine your trustworthiness.

The technology is designed to scan the online profiles of would-be bookers to judge whether they will be reliable customers or not, according to EPO documents. The most recent patent is dated 2019, but initial plans were first put forward in 2014 and are thought to be initially linked to the Trooly start-up that was acquired by Airbnb back in 2017.

The programme will apparently assess guests’ ‘behavioural and personality traits’ including ‘conscientiousness and openness’ complementing the platform’s existing credit and identity checks.

Trait analyzer will be looking for “neuroticism and involvement in crimes” as well as “narcissism, machiavellianism or psychopathy.” And they’ll pull in news articles for mentions of you and criminal histories. Taken along with a judgment about your social network, job and education history, Airbnb will decide whether or not you’re welcome on their platform.

Not every patent becomes a live product. In the U.S. I imagine such software would be subject to copyright only. However in the not too distant future we’ll certainly see more of this. Late last month I wrote about companies deciding not to do business with consumers they deem likely to write reviews or call attention to bad corporate behavior (so-called ‘nudniks’).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Gary. Thank you for posting this. Some black box algorithm will determine whether or not you are a desirable person. Seriously scary.

  2. Airbnb sucks. They were ok before algorithmic pricing took over – now there’s no savings compared to a hotel – and so many hosts are really arrogant (“my house my rules” – well no shit but I’m paying to rent your place, I’m not a courtesy guest).

    My coworker recently stayed at an Airbnb and got a negative review from the host who complained she did not wash dishes thoroughly enough. My coworker is a neat and hygienic person, and the review must have been referring to a tiny missed spot on the backside of a plate.

    Hosts are stupid and greedy. I’d rather just give my money to Hyatt hotels. At least they make me feel like a customer.

  3. Watching football right now. Have you seen the creepy All State commercials (one staring Aaron Rogers) where they give you a discount based on how safe a driver the phone app thinks you are? 24/7 tracking, yuck.

  4. Never fear, Big Brother will watch over us all. Surveillance cameras all over the cities, license plate readers for every police department, phone calls recorded, and the list goes on and on.

  5. What are the chances Airbnb develops AI software to monitor themselves for trustworthiness?

    Right, don’t hold your breath.

  6. On the one hand this is why China’s social credit system is at least something.

    The rules are there and pretty much in the open, sure you’ll get hauled off to court for complaining on wechat, but it’s at least honest.

    Here it’s gonna be

    Sign up for airbnb or rental car, get there and it will be

    >According to our algorithms you watched home alone, DRUMPF appears in home alone 2 therefore you are an evil bigotnazi and cannot stay here!


    >You did not cheer enough for starting a war with Iran, so you are a Russian bot, aka nazi.

  7. I deleted my Airbnb account back when they came out with their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel BDS policy. This is a hospitality company only Jeff Bezos could love.

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