To date, Airbnb has argued that it would allow home listings in disputed areas in the name of connecting people. Now, it's changing its mind. The company plans to remove roughly 200 listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank after rethinking its policies for contested regions. Airbnb didn't provide a detailed explanation of its rationale in this specific instance, but noted that the listings are "at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians."
The firm said it was now considering issues like this on a "case-by-case" basis with help from both experts and its stakeholder community. The process would look for possible safety concerns, determine whether listings add to "existing human suffering" or have a "direct connection" to the dispute in question.
While the company is positioning this as an ethical decision, there's a pragmatic incentive to withdraw the listings. Human Rights Watch is publishing a report on November 20th that will document Airbnb's "human rights harms" from allowing listings in the settlements. The company is clearly trying to get out in front of whatever comes tomorrow with the preemptive policy change.