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Airbnb Says 1 Million Listings Are Now Available for ‘Instant Booking’

December 8, 2016, 10:29 PM UTC
Berlin will from Sunday, May 1, 2016, restrict private property rentals through Airbnb and similar online platforms, threatening hefty fines in a controversial move meant to keep housing affordable for locals. / AFP / John MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by JOHN MACDOUGALL AFP/Getty Images

When Airbnb came under fire for the discrimination some of its users experienced using its home-sharing service, the company pledged to increase the number of listings available through its “instant booking” feature.

On Thursday, Airbnb said that in December the company reached its goal of having at least one million home listings that can be booked through the feature, which lets guests book a rental without communicating with the host and getting their approval, according to a memo from Airbnb. The company has touted the instant booking feature as one way it can help curb discrimination, because it doesn’t give hosts the option of turning down guests.

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Airbnb announced the milestone during a meeting between civil rights groups and Airbnb’s chief business and legal officer, Belinda Johnson, in Washington D.C. on Thursday, according to USA Today.

The one million listings now available for instant bookings represent one third of Airbnb’s total listings worldwide, according to the company.

Increasing instant booking listings is one of several anti-discrimination initiatives the company outlined in a report released in September, after a 90-day review of its service and policies. Other efforts include a new anti-discrimination policy, which Airbnb says has been accepted by 95% of its users since Nov. 1. Less than 1% of the 1.5 million Airbnb users who have been presented with the new policy have rejected it and canceled their accounts, says the company.

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The company also said on Thursday that next month it’s gearing up to roll out an experiment that de-emphasizes guests’ photos and names in favor of elements such as reviews from other hosts. While Airbnb’s intent to curb how much weight hosts put on a potential guest’s identity, critics have argued that users’ names and photos shouldn’t appear at all until after a booking has been confirmed, as they’re not relevant to the transaction.