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Airbnb to Block and Cancel D.C. Reservations During Inauguration (airbnb.com)
142 points by alexrustic 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 179 comments

> Today, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., we are announcing that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week.

Makes sense, at first I just assumed it was an unnecessary blanket ban but if the area isn't condoning travel in general it checks out.

It’s understandable. At the same time it’s also sad and disappointing for the people that wanted to travel there for celebration purposes.

Given the virus, travelling for celebration also seems like something that should be discouraged.

Honestly having been to some inaugurals I'm not a fan. Seems backwards to me.

What we would have is celebrations at the end of your term, for what you accomplished.

I'm very much in the "I'm upset this is necessary, but I also don't really see what other choices people have" camp.

While this might be a good idea for this particular scenario, I don’t like the trend it sets if we continue toward monolithic tech companies replacing established, power-distributed industries. Airbnb is now worth more than the three largest hotel chains, so they are a dominant market player. When they lead, others will follow.

Sorry, you can’t get an Uber to that location because it is the site of a taxi driver protest against ride sharing.

Sorry, you can’t book a flight to that city on that date because there will be an anti-government protest.

Sorry, you can’t order these books from Amazon, because your IP has been detected visiting Parler.com

This is example of using “where does it stop” to justify lack of action.

Should I complain that Uber doesn’t allow people who didn’t pass background check to work for them, because possibly in the future they may extend it to people who disagree with a certain party? Should I complain that Amazon doesn’t sell rape videos, because later it can stop selling document documentary videos about politicians they don’t like?

I agree that slow creep into utopia is an dangerous option, with “would somebody think about the children” approach. But using that to argument to justify lack of action in response to horrible events that undermine society is more dangerous.

The difference is that Google or Facebook (or now AirBnb) are unilaterally deciding to make my choices for me. There is no message saying, “We discourage you to go to Washington,” there is only, “We decided for you that you shouldn’t be there.” Add that to growing monopolies and suddenly you can’t make any decisions for yourself, because there are no alternatives available.

Not to mention the fact that there are a perhaps infinite number of ongoing issues that said companies don’t decide to involve themselves in which would have a much greater effect.

Those aren’t choices for you. They chose who they want to do business with. And let’s not pretend that internet doesn’t exist outside of those companies. Facebook doesn’t allow for example pornography on their website, and Internet porn is doing great.

And yeah, there are countless other issues for those companies. But perfect is an enemy of good. They’re allowed to take action, even if they won’t solve all the other problems at the same time.

And on a list of importance to the companies, not enabling violent government overthrow attempts is in their best interest, even once you strip all the politics. It’s a country where those companies are based, make most of their revenue, and where they’re listed on a stock market.

Airbnb has every right to choose who they want to do business with. But I fear a world where there is only one option and I don’t have a choice whom I want to do business with, and where all my decisions have been made for me.

Yeah, but that's not happening here.

We would need a third party, like the government or a nonprofit. When a company or companies get large enough that they monopolize a niche, when they apply arbitrary restrictions, said restrictions can be challenged in court.

If Uber prevents people from working from them who disagree with a certain party, people can sue them and argue that it isn't a justified restriction. Preventing people from working who don't pass a background check is justified, because it protects the safety of customers (assuming the background check doesn't unfairly weed out certain groups).

Whatever restrictions are required / allowed / banned is up to society as a whole. Probably we would generally err on the side of allowing things, because we like freedom, but ban anything which most agree is illegal, immoral, or dangerous.

> We would need a third party, like the government or a nonprofit.

I thought this was a joke but then I read the rest.

The government, and the many non-profits that benefit from their unique positions with government, are precisely the "enemy" of the people Airbnb are supposedly protecting us against. It would be ridiculous, self-serving, and entirely wasteful to do anything like this, especially led by the government.

So, you are describing the actual government atm.

> Sorry, you can’t order these books from Amazon, because your IP has been detected visiting Parler.com

Forget books, imagine if they did that same analysis and shutdown your AWS accounts because your IP matched one that logged into Parler.

There are a disturbing number of people who would read your post and think "That's a great idea, we should do it".

They love shows like Black Mirror for criticizing the totalitarian Social Credit system in China, but now they're urging private companies to build the same system in the US. Being unable to book travel or a hotel is actually one of the penalties if your score falls too low in China.

This should be viewed as opportunity of disruption by the competitor.

So You can’t get an Uber to that location? Don't worry use our service instead

> Today, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., we are announcing that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week.

This is a company coordinating with local government officials.

What do you think China’s social credit system is?

Something much more pervasive than a response to a real and imminent danger.

This story from Vice about a fully autonomous Taxi service you might find intersting: https://www.vice.com/en/article/xygzvz/one-star

That's more of a compelling argument for anti-trust than it is for anything else.

Giving the government the power to force businesses to do business with parties against their will based on politics is pretty scary to me. I'd rather see companies like Uber broken up so that consumers have a lot more choice than see the government given even more power over our lives.

Tons of airbnb alternatives. For example hotels, VRBO, etc. I don't know if they're all doing the same thing, but if they are, maybe it's just a good idea?

Yes, but what if they all now follow AirBnb’s lead, just as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all did the same thing?

Assuming a functioning market, if every single business bans a group from paying them money, doesn't this imply that that group is simply noxious and the free market has spoken?

Then build your own or at least support other who are willing to be different. Not saying its going to be easy. You want something to happen you have to keep fight/work for it.

Build your own hotel?

That seems to be the path forward. I just wish it weren’t being led by exiled Trumpists, because now the whole thing will be associated with them.

Then maybe it's just a good idea, like I said.

Offloading your democratic rights and responsibilities to a corporation will never be a good idea.

I don't think I have a democratic right to control what private organizations do, in general. That's the default. For me, you have to make a positive case that an org should be enjoined from a given behavior like the one described in the article.

What law would you propose to block private companies from deciding who they do and do not want to serve?

I see the obvious slippery-slope argument being made all over the place but the comparisons to the bakery refusing service to a gay couple are apt.

The concerns are over people who clearly want to leverage the platforms to induce violence (read: QAnon). If there are legitimate concerns over imminent violence, there is no legal obligation to halt service but there is absolutely a moral one.

And the free market allows others companies to continue providing service if they want. If the concern is over companies with massive market share then wouldn't your concern better be addressed by antitrust laws?

Something that ties viable competitors to the ability to reject consumers might work.

It seems like all I'm seeing is slippery-slope arguments these days. Let me spell out why they come across as completely insincere:

Couldn't you just as easily argue that NOT doing anything about a losing president trying to overturn democracy is a much more slippery slope to something far worse? If you simply acknowledge this in your comments, trust me, your points will be taken more seriously.

Don't worry, many of us who consider the far-right actions insane insurrection and conspiracy theory still do believe in free-speech, and will speak up for it if it goes too far (e.g. your third example). It's kinda insincere to jump to these slippery-slope conclusions though, and I think you know that in your heart of hearts. It's pretty trivial to take any real-world phenomenon and contrive how it could be exaggerated to the point it's bad ("Police shooting an armed criminal? What's next police shooting babies?!?" "President bragging how he could shoot a person in the street? What's next, president shooting people in the street?!?").

"We also will reimburse hosts, at Airbnb’s expense, the money they would have earned from these cancelled reservations. HotelTonight reservations also will be canceled."

That's got to be an enormous dollar amount.

Airbnb reimburses hosts for black swan events like these pretty often. My parents are super hosts and some local legislation shut down their Airbnb. Similar to this situation, they got a pretty generous reimbursement (but not complete). At the risk of sounding sappy about a ~100B$ company, Chesky really _does_ care about the hosts ecosystem. They also had the chance to purchase pre-IPO equity, which was pretty cool.

Do they check to see if you list your property on a different site and pocket both the reimbursement and separate rental?

There’d be almost no way to tell given these ads generally don’t have precise locations for the address until after you book.

I bet Airbnb has a lot of data and does have some ability to make a good guess if a property is listed on other sites.

Am I the only one that is even slightly concerned about where all of this is heading?

What happens if you decide that in fact it is not good that Biden instigated a war with the next brown country that is going to get it because the American war machine has lust in its eye and psychopathic military brass needs a promotion for a fatter pension and benefits that depends on killing people somewhere, anywhere?

So is this the paradigm for when protests happen that the government and corporations don't like and just want to shut down? No, I know, they would never shut down your righteous cause and protest because you are the good bois.

They'll simply not let you board a plane (maybe even put you too on a no fly list?)? Not rent a car to you? Deny you a hotel/airbnb, possibly for life? Your apps/phones stop working within a geofence around any government building? You can't eat in a restaurant? You cannot buy anything by payment processor/visa/MC? The only left over mega corporations will not take cash?

People who have done this, which is overwhelmingly on the "left" side of the spectrum, should really take a pause and think really long and really hard about what they have unleashed here; because no matter what I don't see how this demon will be put back into pandora's box without full collapse. Once you have relinquished control over your life to the government/corporate fascist type alliance, you can ask nicely all you want, you aren't getting that power over your life back from these types of people by any peaceful means. History is replete with the proof after proof for how this will all play out unfortunately.

Can't waste a good crisis. Its the same way every time. You only have to look back at terrorist events and see the long-term impact on our freedoms and how it was used to push an agenda. And I say this as neutrally as possible.

Attempting to topple the legitimately elected US president comes with consequences. No matter the reasoning. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Edit: It is interesting to see my comment downvoted. Taking part in such acts and not expecting consequences is naive at best.

Just because a group of morons did something does not mean corporations should take it upon themselves to police the free travel of the citizenry.

Why didn’t they shut down operations across the country when COVID became a known, valid threat? They facilitated the spread of the disease.

No, this is the paradigm when there’s an armed crowd attacking the Capitol and making plans for further attacks, encouraged by the President and a big chunk of Congress. That is not a “protest”. And history is indeed replete with how that scenario plays out.

If the “left side of the spectrum” does any of that, feel free to cancel their credit cards too.

> the "left" side of the spectrum, should really take a pause and think really long and really hard about what they have unleashed here

You seem to be forgetting the immediate cause - the insurrection. Individuals (both left and right leaning) lose ground while entrenched power (both left and right flavored) gains - but these events were set in motion by the political right.

I'm dreading the knee-jerk heavy-handed responses, but after what has occurred they're inevitable. The surest way to get congresscritters to unilaterally act is to directly threaten their own personal safety. Furthermore, bringing organized violence to the table completely changes the game - those social media bans are better seen as a reaction to novel criminal liability rather than a mere escalation of the section 230 battle.

As a libertarian, what's truly disappointing is seeing what was probably our last chance at direct rebellion get wasted to assuage one proto-fascist simpleton's ego with a fake narrative of a stolen election. That's not the kind of movement that could possibly gain momentum by demonstrating its justness. I've always believed that personal computing is a better hope for freedom than expecting any herd of people to move in a productive direction, and these events just hammer it home.

I wonder if they have insurance for this.

Insurance for them making their own decision to cancel reservations? Who would insure that scenario? It would be like wagering on a dice roll and then allowing me to choose the number instead of rolling it.

"social unrest" is an insurable event. It would be a bit of a legal dance to classify this as such, but it is a thing.

Edit: in fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize it could be the other way around too - the insurers could have told AirBnB to cancel all reservations in DC, because they are unwilling to take the risk. They might have calculated it would be cheaper to pay everyone off upfront for the reservations, than risk much larger liability cases if they go forward with them.

It’s not their own decision, like the threat of insurrection is very real. Army and police are taking it very seriously.

Seriously. There are pictures of National Guardspeople sleeping and resting on the floors of the capitol building.


They're there to protect the building and the people in it from people who would stay at an AirBnB the night before an attack.

I agree the threats are real. When you say "it's not their own decision", do you mean because there are orders/laws banning short-term rentals in D.C. during inauguration? Or do you mean the situation "forced their hand" out of a lack of better options? Because the latter is still their decision, even if it is an obvious one.

This is the right call and I applaud Airbnb for putting the integrity of our democracy ahead of short term profits. I simply cannot believe that we are at the point where we have to brace for domestic terrorism in our capitol but here we are. May sanity return to the country soon.

Some protesters become rioters but some others were peaceful. What have happened to the freedom to assemble?

Isn't that technically the right to not have the government interfere with one's freedom to assemble? A private company doesn't owe anyone the right to book a room for the night.

They don't but their mission statement states:

> Airbnb's mission is to help create a world where you can belong anywhere and where people can live in a place, instead of just traveling to it.

How does blocking people staying in DC help Airbnb mission? Freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and mission statements are ideals to follow - no matter where you are in the society - or it's just hypocritical.

"Some protestors" coordinated in advance with domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys, 3 Percenters, etc. They were there specifically to attack the Capitol.

Let's not pretend this was an entirely well-meaning and innocent group of people that accidentally made a bad decision.

You don't have a right to book a hotel.

Good lord this is getting silly.

Why isn't that consistent with the meaning of assembly?

Because the right to assembly has always been about whether or not the government has any ability to restrict or otherwise punish your right to free assembly, not whether or not private actors are obligated to assist.

Let’s put it this way, if we hold that we must require companies to help protests because of the right to free assembly, that means that the local Starbucks wouldn’t be allowed to expel rowdy patrons so long as they’re “assembled”.

To force AirBnB to do business against their will in order to support a political protest would in fact be authoritarian.

Is this right only enforcable in the negative? Are there cases where the government can disagree with business and can instead encourage assembly, or do private ToSes veto that?

Just saw your edit. What regulations aren't authoritarian? I am exploring your use of terms before we end up loading up too much unnecessary meaning.

> Is this right only enforcable in the negative?

Rights like speech, association, and assembly come in a positive and negative form. You have just as much of a right to not speak and not associate as you have to speak and assemble. For fairly obvious reasons the right to speak and the right to assemble gets invoked and litigated more often, but First Amendment lawyers typically have held that forcing parties to speak against their will is equally problematic.

In this case forcing AirBnB to take these people in would be to violate their right to free association. With a few exceptions[0] you are not forced to do business with anyone against your will. The idea that we would trample AirBnB's rights in order to make it easier for someone else to exercise their rights is more than a bit troubling.

> Are there cases where the government can disagree with business and can instead encourage assembly...

The government can encourage all they want. As free citizens you also have the right to give the government the finger and say no.

> or do private ToSes veto that?

Depends on the quality of the ToS. You can't just throw obviously illegal or coercive stuff in a ToS and expect a court to uphold it. But the government has regularly upheld the idea that contracts can contain restrictions that the government could not possibly do, at least as long as the contract is freely entered and well formed. The government might not be able to take away your right to speak, but you can absolutely enter into a NDA that will restrict your right to speak.

Similarly, it's legal to walk around without shoes and a shirt (well, if you're a man). But it's also legal for a business to declare "no shirt, no shoes, no service". This is a ToS "vetoeing" (bad term) someone's right to certain types of behavior within the confines of their own business.

> What regulations aren't authoritarian?

Are speed limits authoritarian? What about food safety ones? Most of us would say "no, those are not authoritarian".

Regulations become authoritarian as they begin to expand in scope and arbitrariness, and when the benefit offered to society does not outweigh the infringement of the regulated parties' rights.

Fundamentally, the government does not have a compelling interest in making it easy for a specific party to assemble and protest. They have an obligation to not make it arbitrarily hard, at least excluding reasonable public safety measures, but it's not their responsibility to ensure that there is adequate housing and transit. The idea that the government might get involved in private businesses to force them, against their will, to assist in a political protest is deeply alarming. Down that road bad things lay.

0 - The obvious exception to the right to not associate is anti-discrimination laws. Within living memory there have been various prejudices so common to effectively lock certain minorities completely out of participation in civic society. Congress and the federal government have persuaded the courts that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring that these minorities are able to participate in society, a compelling interest that outweighs the rights of business owners to decide who they want to do business with. These restrictions are largely based around immutable characteristics such as race, sex, or religion (it's assumed that religious beliefs are deeply held, and nobody can force you to change). This obviously excludes political affiliation, behavior, speech, etc, and therefore isn't relevant in this case.

Thanks for expounding further.

Your assessment with AirBnB relies very heavily on constitutional rights applying to corporate persons. In the US, they appear to, and in the admittedly little time I have spent looking into it, the precedent for the First Amendment being the basis of rulings for corporate persons is quite recent (only ten years ago with Citizens United v. FEC). Not that this refutes anything, directly – just leaves open the possibility for additional refinement to this interpretation in the future.

> no compelling interest

In the US – perhaps. The EU has been frequently at odds with Californian multinationals. Now Merkel and Marcon, who have been no friends of Trump or his supporters, are getting nervous that several corporate actors on this side of the West, can in conjunction turn off the flow of money and communications for political reasons. If regulations become authoritarian when they expand in scope and arbitrariness, perhaps we can label the regulations that these businesses provide (getting ever closer to the level of commodities and infrastructure, rather than mere luxury consumerism) as the onset of corporate authoritarianism.

You've claimed in other threads that this is primarily a boon to anti-trust as the mechanics for regulating corporate power. I agree with this. I also believe that you underrate the dynamic nature of the private-sector/public-sector relationship. The US government is no stranger to interacting with corporate businesses for their own ends. In the 20th century corporations were the primary means by which the US could construct its empire of foreign influence, next to the Navy and the atomic bomb.

Silicon Valley has proven an interesting exception to certain trends. Where post-WWII technological development was framed as American vs Japanese/Soviet, moving into the 21st century corporations began to associate consumerism with political values, beginning with environmentalism, and then towards social justice. Both consumers and executives became more ideological in a way which fed each other, associating domestic politics with the purchase decision.

This makes the relationship between SV and the government good when the government is progressive, bad when the government is conservative; and it creates an inward-facing form of political corporate power, rather than the outward facing version more familiar to the US. There is some nuance here – Musk and Thiel seem to have a newfound preference for Texas and Florida, owning up to SV's cost of operation, and in Thiel's case, ideological slant – but this trend still holds in the case of social media, payment processors, and hotels. In the last week I've also seen insurance companies get on board in removing the insurance of government officials that weren't specifically Trump.

This is all to say that I would expect more controversy surrounding this interpretation of the First Amendment or freedom of association in the corporate context, contingent on the different pressures that SV has in the future. In the short-run we can expect more willing partnerships between government and private business (over just DoD/In-Q-Tel funding), just based on the administration's alignment with their revealed political standings alone. I would ask, if the government forcing businesses to coordinate with them is scary, how much more for not forcing them?

The long-run will depend partially on Biden winning the good faith of American citizens beyond the initial ~50% that got him elected. Not doing so will make 2024 another slaughterhouse, and there will be likely a lot of conflict surrounding platforming again that, if lost, will make the precedents set in this presidential cycle blowback hard. Beyond that, countries in the EU and beyond have room to apply more pressure on SV which could result in large corporate breakups, or if not, a move in demographic from SV infrastructure to ones more local to each country. This would not be good for the US whatsoever – see for instance the current composition of the S&P 500.

In this way I wouldn't take your argument as final, if you are leaning on existing law. There is a lot of room for improvement, and if enough people are pissed off by the willing combination of corporations and the state in way which deprives certain classes of people for too long, the balance of infringement may not tip in this argument's favor.

Restricting hospitality bookings is hardly infringing anybody's freedom to assemble.

In what way is the DC government preventing travelers from reaching DC not infringement on freedom of assembly?

It may be, given covid, the right decision, but it’s an infringement nevertheless.

The DC government asked people to not assemble. The government is free to make requests that it would not legally be able to enforce, and parties are free to comply or give the government the finger. In this case AirBnB has decided to voluntarily comply; I am sure there are other hotels and private lodgings that will do the opposite.

This is not a story about trampling of rights. This is actually a story about what happens once a party loses the presumption of good faith. After 1/6 a lot of people are looking at the planned inauguration "protest" and saying "No, I think you're going to try another insurrection and I want no part of it".

Because it is not the DC government making the call. DC officials asked people not to go. Airbnb is the one blocking reservations and it made the decision to do so. It was not because of a government edict.

If it doesn't make the DC protests more difficult, what's the point then?

Of course it makes protesting more difficult. The issue is that you have no affirmative right to a hotel room, not even under a cockamamie theory about what the “freedom to assemble” means.

My sibling comments talking about private entities are missing the mark, unfortunately advocating what is ultimately fascism (the synergy of government and corporate power) because it is convenient.

However, the real answer is that force majeure happened. Enjoyment of rights is a pleasure of peacetime. We're veering towards having a civil war, and so society ends up prioritizing other concerns. That's not a normative statement, but a descriptive one. If you want enjoyment of your rights back sooner, speak out to end this "stop the steal" propaganda campaign.

If you are not concerned by the actions of big tech in the past week, you are not paying attention, or you are not properly weighing the implications.

I'm paying attention, and what I see is that Facebook can take rapid action when and if it so chooses.

As far back as 2018 [0], a UN report pointed to Facebook's lack of moderation on misinformation as a major reason why the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar developed popular support and continued with the approval of the country's politicians. Thousands were killed and a million refugees are now housed in border areas inside neighbouring Bangladesh.

Five people dead on US soil however, and they manage to magically spring into action to prevent further damage.

[0] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-facebook...

This is one of the problems with unaccountable private censors. It's very easy for them to selectively apply their rules, based on the whims of their workforce or major customers, etc. There is very little oversight, and if they are a monopoly the people who are treated unfairly have nowhere else to go.

There’s a cold civil war, that’s rapidly heating up. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and I think every last thing that’s happened lately has been proportional and measured. People quite literally are trying to stage a violent coup, I’m extremely concerned about that. Far more than Twitter banning some asshole.

Or—hear me out—we have observed the actions and come to a different conclusion from you.

How is that a contradiction?

Quite a lot of the latter, it seems. People are more than willing to give a pass to social media / IaaS acting monopolistically because they don't like the people who were targeted.

Eventually, the shoe will be on the other foot, and then there will be threads at the top of the front page decrying these companies' behavior because the community does like the people who were targeted.

I really wish more people could look beyond two inches in front of their face and see the bigger picture. This pattern is not healthy.

It's a sad state of affairs for the peaceful people that want to attend the presidential inauguration.

Or the peaceful people that peacefully want to protest it. That used to be a right in the United States. I seem to recall a few protests not too long ago.

It still is a right. I went to inauguration protests myself. They had fences up around the route and we had to go through metal detectors and be searched to get near the street. The cops pepper sprayed the crowd through the fences.

What isn't a right though is violent insurrection, sedition, and storming government buildings. Preventing that, when it's been discussed and planned in the open, and threatens our democracy, seems very prudent.

At protest you attended, what would have happened if there were no fences, and no cops spraying the crowd? Would the government buildings have been stormed without?

And why do people expect them to be insufficient for keeping the trumpers at bay?

There were no open and organized calls for violence, attacking government institutions, or executing representatives, leading up to the protests I was a part of (someone did throw an egg though). There are now, and a recent and pretty successful attack on the Capital. That's why we need tighter controls now.

And what would have happened back then with no fences? The fences were a block back from the street, and I was inside them. Most likely there would have been a much larger visible protesting crowd along the route, and probably less conflict because people couldn't get in in time. I completely understand the metal detectors that were there, but I really doubt the chances of someone taking a shot back then are even 1/100th of the chances someone would next week.

Thanks this helps put things in perspective.

They absolutely have the right to do that. They don't however have the affirmative right to be helped in their quest to do that.

They have also lost the presumption of good faith. Lots of things start to suck when people just start assuming that you'll up and try to kill someone if you're allowed into the area. Triply so if they keep saying that that's exactly what they want to do.

Or shorter "actions have consequences".

You can still peacefully protest it. Just beware the company you keep.

I seem to recall protests where they firebombed police stations. Don't get me wrong, I supported those protests and paid a good chunk of money out of pocket to bail out protestors, that's how I remember.

They can still protest it, although why you’d protest a free and fair election is beyond me.

Please don't post unsubstantive comments and/or flamebait to HN.


They're protesting because they think it wasn't free and fair.

Edit: What's controversial about this? This is literally stating what the protestors think.

And that claim has been evaluated in 40 different courts, and debunked. At what point does simply thinking something take precedence over the need for a peaceful transition of power?

I've heard that but can't find the cases went into discovery and were heard to weigh those claims. Do you know which cases did?

I'd love to read the details because that's not "debunking" but outright "disproving" which would be immensely useful.

"Debunked" wasn't the right word. They were tossed by the judges for lack of evidence.

I believe legally, those would be claims or allegations, not evidence.

I'm still hoping to find cases that went into discovery and the evidence (not just allegations) were torn apart and evaluated. So far I've only found lack of standing and latches so not particularly helpful.

There was certainly no shortage during / following the incumbent president's inauguration.

It isn't unreasonable that people wish to publicly express their discontent with the choice their peers made even if they don't believe any rules were broken. My own state saw a lot of protests when a certain politician was elected governor despite no one seriously suggesting the election was rigged in his favor.

If nothing else, it shows the incoming politician that they do not have the support of a large number of their constituents and therefor have no claim to a mandate.

> although why you’d protest a free and fair election is beyond me.

Protests of discontent against duly elected politicians serve to remind that politician of the people's will, which the politician is supposed to represent during his time in office. Also, since politicians are usually concerned with reelection, protests show them a demographic that they might have to satisfy somehow in order to secure that reelection.

Sure, people coming out to protest Biden’s inauguration are likely to be an extremist fringe and there is little that a Biden administration could do to immediately satisfy them. But the fact that large numbers of citizens can come together to voice any idea peacefully, no matter how weird, has historically been concerned a good thing in the West.

Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done and statistically speaking it was not seen to be done.

"Although there’s no widespread evidence of election fraud, fully 72 percent of Republicans say they don’t trust the presidential election results."[0] That article was from December, so things may have changed since. But it's clear that something is seriously wrong when the distrust numbers are that large.


If the distrust numbers are so large despite no evidence of any fraud at all, then perhaps the problem is not the election but whoever is talking to 72% of the republicans...

The normal burden of proof: is there evidence of crime? But maybe the system needs to go further than that, and demonstrate that it is sound. Outreach? Meet and greet the counters? Count watching party (in the sense of cookies and soft drinks)? Some conspiracy theorists might never be convinced, but this is more than that.


This is just false, as has been repeatedly examined in various courts. If you have non-debunked evidence to the contrary, when everyone else has gone looking and found nothing, perhaps you ought to present it?

I'm not going to argue with you as you seem to have a completely fixed viewpoint, which I am assume no amount of evidence will shake. You can do the research yourself if you are so inclined. You reference the dismissed court cases, as if courts solely prove or disprove the validity of information--regardless, I'll leave you with this:

"Republicans argue that since their observers couldn’t watch the vote count, they can’t provide that evidence and have asked for discovery. Still, while the courts have agreed that irregularities have occurred, they weren’t willing to grant discovery unless Republicans first present enough evidence of fraud to overturn the election. Republicans thus faced a kind of Catch 22."

Source: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3756988

> no amount of evidence

Surely some amount greater than zero would be a start, however. Citing statistics isn't a great first choice, since it's so easy to retroactively fit statistics to whatever outcome you want to see. Fraud on the scale you are alleging would leave a hell of a lot of evidence that couldn't possibly be completely swept under the rug. A misapplication of Benford's Law is a really weak argument.

Which vote counts were they unable to watch?

Not all sets of numbers follow Benford's law. https://youtu.be/etx0k1nLn78?t=442

Really? After 4 years of unrelenting conspiracy theories that the 2016 election was not "free and fair", I find that an interesting comment.

To be fair with the way COVID numbers are going, having an event where people from across the country congregate in one place then go back home is probably a bad idea anyway.

They should know better than to go outside during covid anyway

> Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week

Disregarding that it's for a good cause...

Surely this should be the Hosts decision? Isn't AirBnB's whole spiel that it's just a middle-man marketplace where buyers and sellers meet?

It’s so sad how inaccessible our democracy is.

In one of Jimmy Carter’s books he discusses sneaking out of The White House to go jogging on his own. Of course the secret service wasn’t a fan... it’s depressing to be in DC and our most important public buildings are under heavy security. Now an inauguration, which should be a heavily attended celebration, feels so ominous.

Of course it’s all necessary, it’s just a sad state of affairs with plenty of blame to go around in the past few decades. It just feels so undemocratic, and shows the state of our civil society.

I know this was in response to the riots, but there's also a global pandemic on, and even before this the government specifically asked that people do not come to visit for the inauguration.

Frankly I wish they'd have done this months ago.

> We also will reimburse hosts, at Airbnb’s expense

complements to AirBnb that is the right thing to do

It's incredible to me how contentious the inauguration of this center/right Democrat is. Truly we live in interesting times.

>It's incredible to me how contentious the inauguration of this center/right Democrat is.

Social media was a mistake.

I mean the writing was on the wall. It was the plot of several Bond films. The media tycoon by owning the news can disrupt governments.

I don't think that social media alone is to blame, nor do I think it is the main culprit, it is an accelerant, but not the cause.

In order for fringe view points to be broadly accepted they need to be "approved"/"verified" by a trusted party.

Now that our news channels, like Fox News, and CNN, spend more time talking about their opinions of the news rather than what occurred, every fringe viewpoint has been stamped as "valid" by appearing on these "news" organizations.

Social media I think exacerbated this problem by reducing revenues for news media companies so they all had to focus on content that was more emotional, rather than informative. And if they can stir up an emotion people tune in.

Then those viewpoints are shared across social media to create a larger audience, again linking back to these "verified" sources, and you get a pretty vicious flywheel effect.

> Now that our news channels, like Fox News, and CNN, spend more time talking about their opinions of the news rather than what occurred

This is why a lot of countries have state-sponsored media with an obligation to report objectively, but without the pressure to be profitable. With news anchors and journalists that can build up trust and integrity over decades, without the need to sensationalize everything for the sake of viewer numbers. Obviously not a silver bullet either; if there are government officials breathing down their necks instead of shareholders it's probably not much of an improvement, but if enough independence can be maintained it seems to definitely help keeping the discussion civilized.

Speaking as someone from a country where we have a state funded broadcaster, the BBC, which is supposed to be neutral and objective: in practice the definition of neutral and objective is politicized and the leadership of the broadcaster is also politicized.

Similar story with the ABC in Australia. Also, as a non-profit entity that entirely depends on government funding, the typical staff member is more left wing than the population, and this inevitably skews some of the content.

The U.S. has NPR and PBS, but, to put it politely, they have variable amounts of trust depending on one's position on the political spectrum. They also indeed have government officials "breathing down their neck" at least in a budgetary sense.

Their closer-to-neutral stance and low-frills style also don't draw in the audiences that the major news outlets do. The American public is too conditioned for sensationalism and sexy graphics to watch PBS NewsHour with the late Jim Lehrer.

You can even argue social media decelerated. I knew some people who tried to claim the riots were peaceful, until video evidence showed that wasn’t true. It’s a lot harder to brush abuses under the rug when half the people in the crowd have a cell phone

There's definitely been a less reported but positive side to the proliferation of technology and everyone now having a video camera in their pocket.

I would love to see what social media looked like if the news went back to reporting just the news.

Like in school, the who, what, when, and that's it. Now when you turn on the news it feels like turning on Inside Edition when I was a kid. Here are the ten things that can kill you in your house hold... tune in after the commercial break to find out.

If our news organizations actually followed these practices it would be interesting to see if social media in and of itself may not be as detrimental as it appears to be today.

> I don't think that social media alone is to blame, nor do I think it is the main culprit, it is an accelerant, but not the cause.

There's an opinion piece today in the NYT which argues that the present state of politics, with the rightward and even reactionary shift in certain areas of Republicanism, has been 40 years in the making:

Republicans have been fueling the conditions that enabled Mr. Trump’s rise since the 1980s.

A growing Southern and Western evangelical base pushed the party to replace its big-tent, bipartisan and moderate Republicanism of the mid-20th century with a more conservative version. Under President Dwight Eisenhower, the party had made peace with New Deal social provisioning and backed large-scale federal spending on infrastructure and education. Even as late as the 1970s, President Richard Nixon passed legislation expanding federal regulatory agencies. Yet when Ronald Reagan moved into the White house in 1981, the Republicans sharply slashed government regulations. They cut taxes for the wealthy and oversaw a hollowing out of the American welfare state. At the same time, the party shored up its heavily evangelical base with tough-on-crime policies, anti-abortion rhetoric and coded racist attacks on “welfare queens.”

The full piece is here:


1. Opinion piece 2. Blaming one side of politics 3. Amplified by being shared on social media (here and probably elsewhere)

This piece is a perfect example of what raiyu was pointing out.

The deliberate practice of revving up the Republican “base” with increasingly extreme, sometimes fabricated issues also started in the 80s (abortion was one of the first divisive issues to be used for this), and steadily increased to the point we’re at now. Trump was a sudden inflection point in that practice, but the “facts don’t matter” groundwork was already set. So when he went nuclear with misinformation, the leadership couldn’t do anything but follow along even when they didn’t like where he was going. Social media is a great accelerator for this process.

Blaming social media for hate speech is shooting the messenger. The KKK, Jim Crow, lynchings, the Civil War, none of these needed social media and they grew just fine. The problem is and always has been human nature.

Trying to solve a social problem technologically is doomed to fail. We know from history that forcing people to think something they don’t want to causes oppression, resentment, and leads to upheaval. We need to invest more in education so that ordinary people can recognize lies, and we need character in our leaders so that they hold bad actors accountable.

I think the difference is that social media acts as a massive amplifier for minority beliefs. In the Civil War, people who lived in the south were already surrounded by other people who lived in the south, so no amplication was needed to fan the flames. But with social media you have these individuals who would normally be surrounded by reasonable people in their social circles, instead being herded together by engagement-optimizing algorithms.

Yes, the determined will always find a way to socialize with only like-minded people, but tech companies don't have to optimize for it. They could sacrifice some ad-revenue by optimizing for diverse thought, not echo chambers. And that would be a hell of a lot more aminable to free speech than picking and choosing what opinions belong on their platforms.

But technology can make things worse, so it does need review.

Give better weapons to warring tribes and watch what happens.

Similarly, implement likes and upvotes, and use ML recommenders to push people into echo chambers, and watch what happens.

it is hating the gasoline for making the log burn. if you hold a match to a log the match will burnout before the log catches fire. soak the log in gasoline and one match sets it ablaze.

that is my attempt at HN "argument by analogy"

It's not just social media. News has transformed over the past few decades to enable this as well. Anybody remember equal air time rules?

I agree. I think, however, it just brought to the fore deeper issues with democracy. We’ve seen this develop since the equal air time rules were removed. I don’t think it scales to 300 million.

With a population of that size there are too many minority needs that go under represented. This leads to people feeling disenfranchised. Eventually something has to fill the void. Normally it’s some form of subgroup. It can be BLM, Antifa, Maga cult. By centralizing power into the federal government, which is too remote to deal with needs at the local level, all these groups can’t improve things. Riots and violence occur.

Hacker News is social media.

HN doesn’t feature an algorithmic feed, mercifully. We all share a single view here.

Social media becomes a body politic snatching parasite when it generates unique, algorithmically (engagement-driven!) views for each individual.

I agree, but I wish HN would go further and make karma invisible.

By all means, use it to rank things, but showing the numbers just triggers the wrong behaviour. Both in terms of creating addiction in the users, but also in terms of poisoning civil discussion and incentivising clever comebacks over good-faith debate.

>We all share a single view here.

Except for dissenting opinions, obfuscated in light gray.

HN doesn't have a billion people on it, nor does it let you target advertising to affinity groups. One such group could be community members that voice free speech concerns when racist speech is deplatformed, but refrain from commenting on a story where say, journalistic freedom is curtailed.

Don't blame social media for the actions of the Republican Party.

Lots of long time republicans don’t recognize their party anymore after the tea party and trump waves of populism washed away their platform and moderates. I don’t meant that to say those who kept voting with it anyways aren’t doing so with their eyes open, just that I feel this transformation is bigger than something engineered by party bigwigs; they are surfing to where the votes are.

Using “left” and “right” as if nothing has changed will only lead to the bewilderment you are feeling. There is a great political realignment underway, where the new teams will align roughly with “populist” and “establishment” once it is over.

Or perhaps "pro-democracy" and "pro-authoritarian."

But even those terms have lost meaning. China believes it’s a republic.

Pretty sure the current state is already populist and establishment.

It's hard to understand isn't it. He makes the Trump Administration look like amateurs considering how many people were deported under the Obama Administration and how tough they were on jailing minorities. Even Harris's record shows she was incredibly tough on crime and hard on minorities. Sure they like raising taxes but generally it's to make the rich richer and poor poorer.

Bezos, Suckerburg along with all the others worth 10's of billions will be just fine. It's the little guy that is going to get crushed. Anyway, this is all just a distraction to keep you stupid, tired and poor.

I don't think it is Biden's actual political positions that Trump supporters hate. Trump himself is a pretty far left Republican President who pushed hard on big handouts. The issue is that Trump supporters falsely believe that the election was stolen. This makes them think our democracy has already fallen.

If you remove “falsely” your message is stronger. That needless judgement thrown in there is like a slap in the face to anyone who wants to talk about these issues rationally, no matter what they believe.

But it is false and that’s a fact.

And that falsehood is being perpetuated by the president and some republicans.

That is very serious, it is one of the main causes of the capitol events and the reason it’s so insidious is the fact that it is false.

There is really no way to emphasise enough that the election was proper and claims otherwise are false, as has been repeatedly shown in courts, even with republican appointed judges.

You're right, which is why it's so hard to argue this point rationally. All facts and rational judgment point to a free and fair election, which means that people open to rational debate already know that it was free and fair. The people who still doubt the legitimacy of the election are not arguing rationally, but rather based on feelings and belief, and above all a desire for a different outcome. I certainly understand being disappointed with an election result, but it's disingenuous to sublimate that disappointment into a baseless argument that the election was unfair.

The capitol riot was not the logical consequence of a group of rational people protesting an illegitimate election foisted by a tyrannical regime. It was, instead, an outpouring of irrational emotion, draped in the language of revolution against tyranny.

The issues have been talked about rationally ad nauseum. There is no more "room for rational debate" than there is about climate change or the theory of evolution.

The only people who object to the judgment that the election was free and fair are people who aim to disrupt democracy, and they deserve a slap in the face.

Edit: spelling

It will escalate to a lot more than slapping, if enough people keep this attitude.

what you are threatening isn't caused by people arguing against the "stolen election" narrative.

Not a threat, just pointing out what is obvious to anyone who has the faintest sense about how many people are upset, and how long they have been upset. The causes go back a long way before any of this, the “stolen election” thing is just the conflict finally bubbling to the surface.

Being upset does not make them right, does not justify their behavior, and does not mean they have a right to be heard.

In fact, most of the "outrage" experienced on the right is intentionally drummed up, based on almost nothing, for purely selfish reasons. Consider the constantly inflamed talking heads on right-wing media outlets, who abide by the simple rule to always, always be angry.

Yeah it really goes to show how much the country has moved to the right. Biden is described as "radical left" but in most other developed countries he'd be considered center-right, or center at the minimum.

No, in some European countries he would be considered right or center. In much of the developed world, he’d be considered centrist or left.

Europe != the ethical measuring stick for the rest of the world.

I've always disliked this line of thinking. Why does it matter that a politician would be placed somewhere else on the left/right continuum in a foreign country?

Because the continuum reliably correlates with policy positions on key basics like infrastructure investment, education, and access to health care, and taxation, as well as being linked with support for violence and authoritarianism.

No, it really doesn’t at all. Many “right wing” parties in Europe have social policies that Americans would consider far left socialist. Different countries have different political situations and there is no such thing as a universal political left-right continuum.

Biden is described as center-left - the "radical" left is claimed to be a wing of the democratic party, which is objectively true, the question is more about what level of influence that wing has on the policy direction of the party as a whole

The country is still pretty left, but structural disenfranchisement went full throttle starting in about 2010.

Calling Biden far left is just more ad hominem attacks, much like calling any politician one does not like a communist or hitler.

> Biden is described as "radical left"

Only by far-right nutcases.

> in most other developed countries he'd be considered center-right, or center at the minimum

I read this frequently here, but when I look at parties considered center-right I don't see much alignment with even the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. For instance, I do not think Angela Merkel and Joe Biden are roughly equivalent in positions; I think Merkel is measurably to the right.

Is this something hotels are doing? My understanding is that DC area hotels are full and hotels outside DC are filling up.

> We also will reimburse hosts, at Airbnb’s expense, the money they would have earned from these cancelled reservations. HotelTonight reservations also will be canceled.

Not compensating hosts for bookings they might be missing out on for a week, if they did not yet have any bookings.

Even if it's merely corporate signaling, this is not right.

I'm really disappointed in big tech companies, and used to be quite a supporter. I think remainder of my career I'll stick with SMBs.

I'm fine if Airbnb doesn't want the business, its private company after all. I'm more disappointed that no other company try to take the opportunity.

That even centrist-leaning comments made are quickly down voted here by tech people reinforces this opinion. QED

Your comment is non-sensical. Signalling of what? There's practically a declaration of emergency in DC at the moment.

"I used to support big tech, but no longer"? Who champions big tech? How is an AirBnB decision where they reimburse people for a change in plans "evil"? How aren't the gajillion things Apple and Google and Facebook and Amazon have done not the thing that set you off?

You're downvoted for being antagonistic and non-sensical, not because of some oppressed viewpoint that you didn't even express.

Why don't just cancel the public event and do it inside?

Probably because the Biden administration is determined to have a "normal" inauguration and a "normal" presidency after running on a unity/centrist platform.

Corporate posturing. And cynicism mixed with virtue signaling, morphing into virtue enforcement.

It's legitimate self-defence.

A Trump coup would be a financial disaster for BigTech, for reasons that should be obvious.

If you are an Airbnb host, have your friends fill up your bookings.

...and be sued for fraud

Is there anything to keep hosts limited to one platform? Seems like an excellent opportunity for VRBO.



Right, because they didn't kill cops and plan the overthrow of our government, they just protested.

Since Trump was kick out of all mass media and Parler brought down I wonder what does Airbnb knows that can take place that is doing this. When BLM took over DC this didn't happen.

When armed militias set up an "autonomous zone" in Seattle did Airbnb work to identify participants and ban them from the platform?

This is a weird year. The Trump-supporters who attacked the capitol are completely indefensible and should obviously be arrested and incarcerated, but all of these extrajudicial actions from companies which are extremely hypocritical compared to their response to antifa makes me uncomfortable.

All I see is bad responses to bad people doing bad things leading to more bad people doing more bad things in response to the responses. I guess I'll hope things get less "us vs them" in a few months.

If you haven’t, you should watch some of the first hand videos of the autonomous zone and compare them to the videos of the Capitol.

i didnt like the autonomous zone I thought it was terrible. but the decision to let it happen was taken by the Seattle PD and mayor's office.

this is a much larger phenomenon, where millions of middle class people are endorsing or joining militias in political violence at a national level.

Just their reservations, not their accounts? After they aided and abetted terrorism?

Think of how many lives will be saved by limiting attendance at this super spreader event. They should be applauded at mitigating another Coney Barrett reception situation.

The fact that DC officials would allow anyone to visit is irresponsible at best and criminal at worst.

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