Airbnb policy change freaking out internet

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‘They are telling you what’s coming’: Airbnb’s new refund policy for ‘government travel restrictions’ sends QAnon crowd spiraling

'They are telling you what's coming...'


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Apr 8, 2024   Updated on Apr 8, 2024, 12:10 pm CDT

Airbnb announced late last month a planned update to its “Major Disruptive Events Policy,” a decision that’s led some online to believe the company has foreknowledge of an upcoming disaster.

The update, which isn’t set to take effect until June 6, provides cancellation and refund support for guests when issues like weather events, such as a hurricane during hurricane season, result in “another covered event happening, like a government travel restriction or large-scale outage of essential utilities.”

“As an example, if a hurricane were to impact Florida during hurricane season and this led to a mandatory evacuation order, under the old policy affected bookings for this destination would not be eligible for a refund,” Airbnb said. “With this update, in these same circumstances, guests with affected bookings do qualify for a refund.”

But the timing of the announcement, which coincides with events such as Monday’s solar eclipse, has many online conspiratorially claiming that something nefarious is happening.

Dr. Naomi Wolf, a prominent conspiracy theorist on X, suggested to her more than 378,000 users that Airbnb’s decision may have been influenced by inside information.

“@Airbnb may have been read in on a turbulent summer: updated their ‘extenuating circumstances’ policy to ‘Major Disruptive Events’ policy,” she wrote. “Added government restrictions on travel as a situation in which you get a refund. Which condition is unconstitutional to start with.”

Others made similar claims by arguing that Airbnb had become aware of upcoming utility outages or government travel restrictions.

“maybe I’m just a conspiracy-theorist idiot, but this seems like very specific wording in Airbnb’s new Major Disruptive Events’ policy…” the user @SteeleDaddy wrote. “if I were a betting man, I’d venture that government travel restrictions or a large-scale utility outage might happen this summer.”

Supporters of the long-debunked QAnon conspiracy theory, who believe former President Donald Trump is still running the country and battling a secretive child-eating cabal of Democrats, also got in on the hype.

“They are telling you what’s coming. We are Awake. World at War,” the user said.

One user even went as far as to suggest that the policy change was satanic given that the date it goes into effect is 06/06/24. By adding the two digits in the year, the user proclaimed, the date would be 666.

The Daily Dot emailed Airbnb to ask about the policy change and was directed to a blog post on their website.

Juniper Downs, Airbnb’s Head of Community Policy, stated that the changes “were made to create clarity for our guests and Hosts and ensure it’s meeting the diverse needs of our global community.”

“Our aim was to clearly explain when the policy applies to a reservation, and to deliver fair and consistent outcomes for our users,” Downs said. “These updates also bring the policy in line with industry standards.”

And if Airbnb were aware of something nefarious afoot, its policy update doesn’t make much sense.

It is expanding the ability for users to get refunds, not restricting it, meaning that were something to happen, the company would lose out tremendously.

Not exactly evil mastermind stuff.

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*First Published: Apr 8, 2024, 12:04 pm CDT