If you have you rented an Airbnb in the past six years, the odds are pretty high that you have been given a secret risk assessment and personality score.
According to an Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) complaint, Airbnb’s secret renter risk assessments are just as specious as the Church of Scientology’s personality tests.
This complaint concerns Airbnb’s deployment of a risk assessment technique that assigns secret ratings to prospective renters, based on behavior traits using an opaque, proprietary algorithm. Airbnb has failed to show that its technique meets the fairness, transparency, and explainability standards for AI-based decision-making set out in the OECD AI Principles and the Universal Guidelines for AI.
According to EPIC, Airbnb uses a secret algorithm to generate renter “risk scores.”
Airbnb generates a risk assessment score for consumers before their reservations are confirmed.As the company explains on their website: Risk scoring. Every Airbnb reservation is scored for risk before it’s confirmed. We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.
For six years, Airbnb has been using their “determining trustworthiness and compatibility of a person” algorithm to create risk scores of every renter.
Airbnb also uses their secret algorithm to rate renters’ personalities.
Personality comprises the emotional and cognitive characteristic of a person. Behavior is how a person acts or reacts, sometimes toward another person, in a certain situation. A person with positive personality or behavior traits such as conscientiousness and openness, for example, is often perceived as more reliable and trustworthy. A person with negative personality or behavior traits such as neuroticism and involvement in crimes, for example, is often perceived as untrustworthy.
Airbnb does not want people who are “shy, anxious or depressed” to rent their apartments, condominiums or homes because those types of people are likely to leave negative comments.
But Airbnb will rent to people with a “high trustworthiness score” because they are more likely to leave positive comments.
Airbnb uses their secret algorithm to check renters social network profiles, email address, telephone number, geographic location, date of birth, social connections, employment history, education history, driver’s license number, financial account information, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and device identifier.’