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’).