Amid increased risk of violence and concerns that the mob riots incited by President Donald Trump, which stormed the Capitol last week were only a glimpse of what might be coming next, Airbnb is said to be cancelling and blocking all reservations in the Washington DC area during the presidential inauguration week.
“Today, in response to various local, state, and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., we are announcing that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the inauguration week,” Airbnb said in a statement.
The decision came on Wednesday, after state and federal officials warned people not to travel to Washington, D.C, as plans for new armed protests and calls for violence started circulating on social media forums. The tragic events which took place on 6 January, and left five people dead, made Airbnb rethink its policies and cancel all reservations during the week of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
This is not the first time Airbnb removed guests who are identified as members of hate groups. In 2017, it blocked guests who were planning to take part in a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Airbnb said they wanted to make sure “hate groups are not part of the Airbnb community.”
The company said that after the names of the individuals responsible for the attack on the Capitol were revealed through media and from law enforcements sources, it started its own investigation into identifying whether these individuals have an account with them.
“We have identified numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform,” Airbnb said.
The short-term rental site said they will refund in full guests whose reservations were cancelled and their hosts will be reimbursed the money they would have earned from the cancelled reservations. Its subsidiary, Hotel Tonight took the same stance.
Airbnb refused to say how many reservations were cancelled. For those renting long-term or for medical reason there are exceptions.
The FBI has warned that armed protests are being planned in the capitals of all 50 states.
According to Open Secrets, the Center for Responsive Politics which tracks money in politics, Airbnb donated $866,519 to political parties and candidates in the 2020 elections, with President-elect Joe Biden being the biggest beneficiary.
The company – together with Marriot, AT&T, and Walmart – are determined against any future donations to the Republicans who voted against the legitimacy of the elections.
Last week saw Mr. Trump banned from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit. 70,000 accounts related to QAnon were removed from Twitter, and Facebook has banned almost entirely the hashtag “Stop the Steal”, a phrase used to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Facebook said it had tracked online material inciting to protest and some of it included calls to arms or the insignia of militias.