News & Politics

Airbnb May Expel Users Who Participate in the DC “Unite the Right” Rally

White supremacists rally on the National Mall, June 2017. Photographs by Evy Mages

Airbnb is willing to expel users of its service who participate in the white-supremacist  Unite the Right 2 rally planned for August 12 in Washington. That echoes measures the company took before last year’s deadly protest in Charlottesville.

A spokesperson for the company tells Washingtonian it has no qualms identifying and determining individuals “pursuing behavior on the Airbnb platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment,” such as racial supremacy.

“We seek to take appropriate action, which may include removing them from the platform,” says Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas. “We acted in advance of last year’s horrific event in Charlottesville and if we become aware of similar information we won’t hesitate to do so again.”

Last August, the company quietly ejected an undisclosed number of users associated with the Unite the Right march. The news caused some backlash from people who called for those affected to boycott and sue.

Rally organizer Jason Kessler claimed Airbnb’s action was proof of “racial targeting of white people for their ethnic advocacy.”

“Would Airbnb cancel the service of black nationalists or Black Lives Matter activists for their social media activity? Of course not!” he told the Washington Post at the time.

Currently, there are several Airbnb postings around the Vienna Metro station, which the organization’s website says is the initial meeting point for white supremacists heading to Lafayette Square. One entire apartment near the station costs around $400 a night, and according to Airbnb’s algorithm, there’s a 42 percent increase in users looking for bookings nearby within the rally dates.

But owners of Airbnbs near the station might not have to worry about hosting a Nazi at all: The organizers of the protest have urged supporters to keep their lodging plans secret. “Don’t let strangers know where you’re staying,” the Unite the Right 2 website reads.  “If you’re going to be in town on Saturday, August 11th please stay with trusted friends and don’t talk to strangers about your participation.”

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.