Airbnb has emailed users with a request to agree to a Community Commitment, enforced as of 1 November 2016.
The commitment reads, “You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgement or bias.”
As the email explains, users will see the commitment when they log in to or open Airbnb on any device, and be automatically asked to accept. Those who decline will no longer be able to host or book using the site.
Brands have often made clear their own social commitments, and asked the same of suppliers, but it is rare that they have sought the same from end users. Usually, the request goes the other way - through campaigns such as #StopFundingHate.
Peer-to-peer transaction platforms like Airbnb blur the distinction between providers and users, and so enter into a different relationship with people, in which they are more than simply 'consumers' - more akin to citizens.
We talk about a brand's community, but these are rarely governed by social contracts: usually, oaths are elicited by states in exchange for citizenship. As calls for respect and empathy rise, how far does the potential for brands to make demands of citizens stretch?