As Kurson notes, “Since its founding a decade ago, Airbnb has frequently been accused of racism. A 2015 Harvard Business School study concluded that “guests with distinctively African-American names are 16% less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively White names.” The persistent problem actually seemed to worsen after that attention with story after story of guests being turned away because they were black or black (again) or black (again) or Jewish or Muslim or Asian or Asian (again) or just for no reason at all. The hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack became a thing and summer of 2016, the company fielded so many complaints that it hired former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder to create a more effective anti-discrimination policy.
On November 19, Airbnb announced that it would no longer allow listings in the West Bank. A petition by StandWithUs Israel pointed out that Airbnb’s “decision applies only to Jewish communities and not Palestinian ones, despite the fact that the final status of the territory remains under dispute and must be decided in peace negotiations. Furthermore, Airbnb continues to operate in Kashmir, Tibet, Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara, South Osetia, and other conflict zones.” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s organization took a full-page ad in the Washington Post decrying the singling out of Israel among all the world’s nations.
He wrote back to the company. “I intend to defend my First Amendment right to develop airbnbisracist.com. And now I can only wonder if airbnbisracistandabigfatbully.com is available.”
He’s available to discuss this further – and wont be removing the site.
*(Below is the letter from Airbnb)
To Whom It May Concern:
As you may know, Airbnb, Inc. is the owner of the well-known trademarks, AIRBNB (Reg. No. 4884815)
As a trademark owner, Airbnb, Inc.is obligated to enforce its rights by taking action to ensure that others do not use its trademarks without permission, including in domain names. Registration and use of domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to Airbnb, Inc.’s trademarks, without permission, could result in a likelihood of confusion among consumers.
In light of the above, we request that you respond to this e-mail within ten (10) days, informing us whether you have obtained rights from Airbnb, Inc.to register and use the domain name(s) airbnbisracist.com. If so, please provide us with details as to who granted you such rights and when. If not, please indicate your agreement to immediately stop using the Domain(s) and refrain from creating any new domain names using Airbnb, Inc. in any manner.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.
Airbnb Brand Protection