Technology

Airbnb can now scan guests on social media for psychopathic tendencies

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Short-term rental giant Airbnb has developed technology that looks at guests’ online “personalities”.

It’s been more than a year since a patent for technology aimed at determining the “trustworthiness” and “compatibility” of people by Airbnb-owned tech company Trooly Inc was published in the US.

The software, built to screen potentially dangerous and unruly guests using the Airbnb app, allows the short-term rental company to flag and investigate suspicious activity.

But details of the capabilities of Airbnb’s “trait analyser” software specifically – which forms part of the company’s background check technology – have surfaced.

And online personalities play a part in whether we are deemed suitable as guests of Airbnb properties.

Moreover, according to the patent for the software, Airbnb is capable of scanning online sites, including social media, to determine traits against credit and identity checks and “secure third-party databases”.

According to multiple reports, these traits include conscientiousness and openness, as well as “neuroticism and involvement in crimes” and “narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy”, which are reportedly “perceived as untrustworthy”.

These form part of the process of forming a “trustworthiness score” by artificial intelligence, which is also impacted by a surplus of other factors, used to gauge whether the “personality” of a guest is compatible and suitable for renting a property.

In a statement, an Airbnb spokesperson confirmed it owns the patent, and told Travel Weekly Airbnb is always looking at “prospective” ways to improve trust on the platform and “reduce risk for our hosts and guests”.

“As with any other company, there are a number of patents we file, ranging from searching listings to automating booking availability, and it does not mean we necessarily implement all or part of what’s in them,” the spokesperson said.

According to Airbnb’s online statement on ‘Risk scoring’, every Airbnb reservation is scored for risk before it’s confirmed.

“We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens,” the company said.

Additionally, Airbnb says that it also runs hosts and guests against regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watchlists.

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