The tech industry has been caught in the war between Russian and Ukraine, but Airbnb is emerging as a platform for humanitarian aid.
Many tech companies have been pulling their services and products from Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, essentially imposing their own sanctions on the country. In the case of Airbnb, however, customers are making reservations in Ukraine despite having no plans of using them. The goal is merely to use Airbnb as a platform for sending money to those who may need it.
According to Business Insider, one of the main motivations is concerns about charitable and humanitarian efforts that have been put in place. Many individuals are leery of such organizations, doubting whether their money will really make to those in need, or disappear into a quagmire of bureaucracy. With Airbnb, in contrast, a specified amount of the rental fee is guaranteed to make it to the intended recipient.
“I see politics being played out and I understand why NATO cannot go in, but I feel very sad and heartbroken for the people … being slaughtered,” Yan Asmann, an associate professor at Mayo Clinic who booked three nights in Kiev, told Insider. “It’s very hard to watch day-by-day.”
The innovative use of Airbnb is another demonstration of the democratizing effect tech platforms can have, even on something as basic as humanitarian aid.