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Airbnb announces steps to prevent discrimination

Airbnb announced Thursday that it is taking steps to protect against discrimination.

The travel accommodations website has been under scrutiny in recent months for alleged racial discrimination by Airbnb hosts.

Some users have reported hosts harassing them and calling them racial slurs. Others have said hosts refused their request to rent because of the color of their skin. Quirtina Crittenden, who told NPR she was repeatedly declined by Airbnb hosts, tweeted her experiences with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack, and others joined in.

In a report released Thursday, Airbnb said it is now devising a way to emphasize trip details and reviews while downplaying user photos.

It also plans to expand its “instant book” feature, which allows homes to be booked immediately without approval from the host, to 1 million listings by 2017.

Other changes will include anti-bias training for Airbnb employees and a full time product team to fight bias and promote diversity.

Airbnb also plans to implement a new policy called Open Doors where the company will guarantee accommodation elsewhere for someone that feels they might have been discriminated against in violation of the new policy.

“These steps are just the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to combat bias and discrimination,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. “While we as a company have been slow on this issue, I am now asking you the community to help us lead the way forward.”

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