The Constitution of Airbnb

On 1 November 2016, Airbnb introduced a “strengthened and more detailed” nondiscrimination policy, of which terms “are stronger than what is required by law.” “The Airbnb community,” the binding policy declares, “is committed to building a world where people from every background feel welcome and respected, no matter how far they have traveled from home.” “[A]ll of us, Airbnb employees, hosts and guests alike,” are “committed to doing everything we can to help eliminate all forms of unlawful bias, discrimination, and intolerance from our platform,” and agree to act in accordance with the policy.

This paper explores the auto-constitutionalization of Airbnb’s domain, analyzing the digital and legal technologies employed to “codify” its foundational principles of “inclusion” and “respect.” Using this investigation as a platform for general reflection, it examines the technical elements of governance, the encoding of constitutions, and the constitution of programmed bearers of rights.