Following a patent application last year, Airbnb is now using advanced AI-powered software gained from its acquisition of tech startup Trooly to run social media background checks on potentially “untrustworthy” bookers.

The “trait-analyzing” software uses bespoke algorithms to scan bookers’ social media profiles and other web-based information such as news stories and employment details, identifying negative “behavioral and personality traits” such as “narcissism, Machiavellianism or psychopathy” and “neuroticism and involvement in crimes”, as well as identifying those users deemed more likely to be trustworthy. It is thought that the technology will give particular weight to social media references to drugs, alcohol and sex work, as well as red-flagging hate speech.

While the Airbnb website does state that “We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens”, this new technology represents a decisive, albeit potentially controversial, step forward when it comes to predictive analysis and risk assessment, as well as serving as a stark reminder to users of social media that they might be advised to think carefully about what they say and do online, lest they be blacklisted by Airbnb (and others).

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