Aug 28, 2017

Airbnb's user ratings help curb social biases

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky (Jeff Chiu / AP)

Airbnb users pay more attention to other users' reviews and profile ratings than they do to the social similarities between them, a Stanford study found. On average, users preferred hosts with high ratings over others that shared demographic similarities but had low scores.

The backdrop: Airbnb has implemented a series of changes to its platform to attempt to curb discrimination based on social biases, including removing user photos, which indicate race and gender, from the search listings page and asking users to agree to an anti-bias pledge.

The context: A 2016 Harvard study found that "requests with black-sounding names were 16% less likely than those with white-sounding names to be accepted" on Airbnb. Harvard researchers also found that "non-black hosts are able to charge approximately 12% more than black hosts, holding location, rental characteristics, and quality constant."

The study: Stanford researchers collected data on gender, age, home state and marital status from about 9,000 U.S. Airbnb users and asked them to judge other users' profiles. Some profiles the participants were shown were demographically identical to them — based on those factors — and others had received high ratings. Participants tended to weigh users' reputations more than the demographic similarities between them.

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Deadly clashes erupt in Delhi ahead of Trump's visit

Rival protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi, India, on Monday. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm Tuesday as deadly clashes erupted in the city's northeast between supporters and opponents of India's controversial new citizenship law.

Why it matters: Per the BBC, a police officer and six civilians "died in the capital's deadliest day" since last year's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — which allows religious minorities but excludes Muslims from nearby countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted for their religion — hours before President Trump and members of the U.S. first family were due to visit the city as part of their visit to India.

Go deeper: India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

South Carolina paper The State backs Buttigieg for Democratic primary

Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend Pete Buttigieg speaks at an event in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Carolina newspaper The State endorsed former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday night for the state's Democratic primary.

Why it matters: It's a welcome boost for Buttigieg ahead of Tuesday's Democratic debate in South Carolina and the state's primary on Saturday.

White House requests $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus as U.S. cases rise

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to 53.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,699 people and infected more than 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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