Measuring Discrepancies in Airbnb Guest Acceptance Rates Using Anonymized Demographic Data

by   Siddhartha Basu, et al.

In order to make technological systems and platforms more equitable, organizations must be able to measure the scale of potential inequities as well as the efficacy of proposed solutions. In this paper, we present a system that measures discrepancies in platform user experience that are attributable to perceived race (experience gaps) using anonymized data. This allows for progress to be made in this area while limiting any potential privacy risk. Specifically, the system enforces the privacy model of p-sensitive k-anonymity to conduct measurement without ever storing or having access to a 1:1 mapping between user identifiers and perceived race. We test this system in the context of the Airbnb guest booking experience. Our simulation-based power analysis shows that the system can measure the efficacy of proposed platform-wide interventions with comparable precision to non-anonymized data. Our work establishes that measurement of experience gaps with anonymized data is feasible and can be used to guide the development of policies to promote equitable outcomes for users of Airbnb as well as other technology platforms.


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