Airbnb this week announced that it will be introducing “anti-party technology” to squash attempts at using home listings as party destinations. (Yes, that’s really what they’re calling it.) The new technology builds on a COVID-era policy that banned all parties at Airbnb listings — a policy that was codified into permanency earlier this summer.
The “anti-party technology” is really just a new set of algorithms that seeks to identify patterns of abuse on the Airbnb booking platform. The system looks at factors like “history of positive reviews (or lack of positive reviews), length of time the guest has been on Airbnb, length of the trip, distance to the listing, weekend vs. weekday,” and many others, according to the company’s press release.
The tool is rolling out in the U.S. and Canada on a testing basis. Airbnb says it’s seen a 35 percent reduction in unauthorized parties since its introduction in Australia in late 2021, a “very effective” success it hopes to replicate in North America. (The accuracy of this statistic — who can predict how many parties would have been booked this year? — is unclear.)
Sure to be mistakes — As is the case with any algorithmic system, Airbnb’s anti-party tool will not always make the right call. The company is at least open about this in its announcement: “We want to be clear that no system is perfect,” Airbnb says.
If a user is flagged by the system as having high potential of throwing a party, Airbnb will not allow that user to reserve listings that include an entire house or apartment. These users will still be allowed to book private rooms where the host is likely to be on-site.
The anti-party technology is meant to detect repeat offenders, so it won’t really be able to stop first-time party-throwers. There is, however, a Neighborhood Support Line available so those living near popular Airbnb locations can snitch on big ragers.
We just can’t quit the algos — While using a set of algorithms to detect high-risk offenders is nowhere near perfect, it’s certainly more efficient than having humans review each and every Airbnb account. Airbnb’s human resources can thereby be used to review questionable cases and emergency situations.
Whether we like it or not, the efficiency of algorithm-driven systems is our new normal. These algorithms, problematic as they may be, help dictate our realities. If the Airbnb anti-party algorithm says you’re a serial partier, you’ll have to put in the work to prove otherwise. Your best bet, as always, is to stay on the AI’s good side.