Airbnb Looks to Tackle Sex Trafficking in Rental Homes

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Airbnb, the short-term home rental company, says it is investing in new technology to stop human traffickers who are turning their properties into temporary sites for sex trafficking.

The company is working with anti-trafficking nonprofit Polaris to train its employees, develop new systems, and work in tandem with the police to prevent and report cases of trafficking. Airbnb operates in nearly 200 countries and has had more than 260 million home and room rentals.

Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:

“We’re taking a modern approach to combating modern slavery by leveraging the innovation of the sharing economy to better spot and stop potential exploitation ahead of time,” said Nick Shapiro, global head of trust and risk management at Airbnb.

“Exploitation and trafficking are still all too common in today’s society, but we are eager to use our global reach to help assist in the effort to end it once and for all,” Shapiro told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an exclusive interview.

Airbnb said it would combine its existing risk analysis – from screening every host and guest to trawling through photos to check for signs of exploitation – with data and insight from Polaris, which runs the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Last year British lawmakers began investigating the trend of sex traffickers using rental properties advertised on sites like Airbnb to create “pop up brothels.” This same tactic is now being used by traffickers in the United States.

Airbnb is the latest company in the “sharing economy” industry to begin taking on human trafficking. Just last week Uber announced that it would be training its drivers in the US how to spot traffickers and trafficking victims when they hail a car.

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