Lodging website Airbnb is permanently deleting the accounts of users they believe may be travelling to Charlottesville on Saturday to attend the Unite the Right rally.
The company is claiming that by attending the right-wing rally, users are violating their terms of service. In a statement provided to Gizmodo, the company confirmed that they are removing users that they believe are “antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment.”
The statement reads:
“In 2016 we established the Airbnb Community Commitment reflecting our belief that to make good on our mission of belonging, those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age. We asked all members of the Airbnb to affirmatively sign on to this commitment. When through our background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform.”
The Airbnb Community Commitment is an agreement that users must accept to use the service and was implemented last year after a flurry of complaints about racism by hosts. Gizmodo notes that this appears to be the first time that the agreement has been preemptively used to ban guests.
The speakers at the event are certainly no strangers to controversy, with a lineup that includes Richard Spencer, Timothy Treadstone — better known as Baked Alaska, former Libertarian Senate candidate Augustus Invictus, Pax Dickinson, and Mike Enoch.
The Facebook event page states that the Unite the Right rally was planned “in response to the Alt-Right’s peaceful demonstration in support of the Lee Monument on May 13th, the City of Charlottesville and roving mobs of Antifa have cracked down on the First Amendment rights of conservatives and right wing activists.”
The statement adds, “they have threatened our families, harassed our employers and tried to drive us from public spaces with threats of intimidation. We are not afraid. You will not divide us.”
While many on the right loudly oppose the views of some of the speakers — Airbnb’s actions have started an intense debate about when it is okay to refuse people service. The left constantly demands that private businesses do not have a right to refuse to provide goods or services based on their religious beliefs, for example — baking cakes for gay weddings — yet they seem to believe that it is okay to refuse people service if their political ideas are in contrast to their own.
#UniteTheRight: Be there or be a communist.
(I'm the red segment with the Eagle, Wreath, & Fasces) pic.twitter.com/S5Cbrv8YXN
— Augustus Invictus (@EmperorInvictus) July 10, 2017
“Of course private companies should have the right to deny service to anyone they wish: that is the right wing position,” Invictus told Big League Politics. “But these are exactly the same people who cry ‘NAZI’ every time the right-wing says exactly that. The hypocrisy is unbelievable.”
Additionally, the company’s action raises the issue of privacy — and how exactly Airbnb is investigating their users’ political affiliations and travel intentions. Also, with the right and the left not even in agreement about what classifies as racist — or what the word even means — what metrics are they using to decide who should be permanently banned?
“The question is how Airbnb decides who is racist and who is not. How are they looking into every person who makes reservations in the city? This is Soviet-style investigation, which should concern every American, left-wing or right,” Invictus said.
When asked by Big League if the rally is a “neo-Nazi” event as reported by various media outlets, Invictus laughed and said “this is a rally to unite the various factions of the right-wing into one mass movement. To call that a ‘neo-Nazi rally’ is the height of disingenuous.”