Incident 183: Airbnb's Trustworthiness Algorithm Allegedly Banned Users without Explanation, and Discriminated against Sex Workers

Description: Airbnb allegedly considered publicly available data on users to gauge their trustworthiness via algorithmic assessment of personality and behavioral traits, resulting in unexplained bans and discriminatory bans against sex workers.


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Alleged: Airbnb and Trooly developed an AI system deployed by Airbnb, which harmed sex workers and Airbnb users.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor, Khoa Lam
EPIC Files Complaint with FTC about Airbnb’s Secret “Trustworthiness” Scores · 2020

EPIC has filed a complaint with the FTC, alleging that Airbnb has committed unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Airbnb secretly rates customers “trustworthiness" based on a patent th…

Is Airbnb using an algorithm to ban users from the platform? · 2022

Airbnb may be using automated decision-making to leave some users out in the cold.

If you've ever been in the market for a holiday rental property in the past few years, chances are you've been on Airbnb.

The US-based platform has become a …

Airbnb blasted for using algorithm that judges if users are ‘trustworthy’ · 2022

Airbnb may be using automated decision making to boot users from the short-term rental platform, based on factors like social media, employment history and your IP address.

Consumer advocacy group Choice called out Airbnb in a report questi…

Banned from Airbnb with no explanation? Here’s why · 2022

Airbnb may be digging through users’ old social media posts to keep people it deems untrustworthy off the site.

If the algorithm it uses doesn't like what it sees, it seems users can be rejected without explanation.

That’s what happened to …

Could you be banned from Airbnb for your Instagram posts? · 2022

An investigation by the Australian consumer rights organisation, Choice, has found that the online accommodation marketplace Airbnb is secretly collecting users’ personal data to assess whether they are trustworthy enough to make a booking.…

Tweet: @bethanyhallam · 2022

Did I just… get a lifetime @Airbnb booking ban for a 9 year old possession charge?!? 🤯


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.