Pando

ShareBetter steps up attacks on "racist" Airbnb

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on July 27, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

Two years ago, a coalition of elected officials and special interest groups launched "ShareBetter," a New York based campaign to shame Aibnb for unneighborly behavior. 

From the Huffington Post's coverage at the time...

The Share Better group, for its part, is using Airbnb horror stories and policy arguments alike to turn public opinion against the popular site.

“Far from being a harmless service where New York City residents can share their homes with guests to the City, Airbnb enables New York City tenants to break the law and potentially violate their leases, it exacerbates the affordable housing crisis in our neighborhoods, and it poses serious public safety concerns for Airbnb guests, hosts and their neighbors,” reads a statement on the organization’s website.

Airbnb dismissed the group's claims, arguing that their funding came from "misguided" hotel lobbyists who were worried that the company was stealing the industry's business. Certainly the framing of the group's message, and the fact that it was able to raise a reported $3m in funding for attack ads, suggests it was slightly more than a grassroots movement by concerned citizens.

Still, since its launch, I hadn't heard much from ShareBetter, save for the occasional quote in an anti-Aibnb article. Here at Pando we've reported on some of the victories won by legislators in San Francisco against the company, but in New York and elsewhere the juggernaut still rumbles on.

But now ShareBetter seems to be ramping up again. Visiting the Politics front page of NYTimes.com today I was confronted by a gigantic banner from ShareBetter, promoting the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.

After clicking through, I was urged to "Take action against racial discrimination on Airbnb."

ShareBetter appears to have turned its focus away from general misbehavior by Airbnb - building code violations, other safety issues, and income inequality - towards claims that hosts on the platform routinely refuse to take bookings from black or other minority renters. Those claims have been widely reported, even leaving to some people to demand an "Airbnb for black people."

On the heels of Congressional Black Caucus leaders releasing a letter condemning racism and the “exclusion of many African Americans and other minorities” on Airbnb, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren calling for a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) probe into Airbnb, former Airbnb user Quirtina shares her experience dealing with racism on a platform that promises you’ll ‘belong anywhere.’ Watch the video and then send a message to Airbnb that enough is enough – they should be doing more to stop racial discrimination.

 #Airbnbwhileblack encourages visitors to sign a petition demanding action against racism which, it says, will be sent directly to the company.