Things that caught our eye

Sorry you don’t have enough Facebook friends to prove you exist.

15 Nov , 2014  | by:

The Guardian reported yesterday that a ‘middle-aged mum of two’ with ‘an impeccable credit record’ who preferred to remain anonymous could not book a B&B via Airbnb because her 50 Facebook friends were not enough to establish that she existed, as she states. The lack of a very abundant online presence (nearly) prevented her from making use of the Airbnb services.

Airbnb requires a verification of the booker’s identity by (1) having a photo as well as both (2) a copy of a passport or driver’s licence and  (3) some some proof of her existence online either by linking a Google, LinkedIn or Google account. Verification of both ‘online’ and ‘offline’ identity. That is quite a lot of personal information. Whilst I understand that in the event anything goes wrong it would be good for the ‘host’ to know who he/she was dealing with, but still, why the need to give Airbnb this host of personal information? Airbnb responded to the article in the Guardian with the statement that the new Verified ID system has received “extremely positive feedback”.

The story has a happy ending; in the end the woman got to book via Airbnb.

Three days, three lost bookings, a spate of emails, and two calls to Casey and her colleague in Colorado later, my problem was resolved. I was “escalated” to one of Airbnb’s “verification specialists”, who allowed me to upload my (very grumpy) video directly to him, explaining who I was. Twenty-four hours after that I got my green light. Off I went, and had a wonderful weekend courtesy of my excellent host “Felix”.

Read the full article here.

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