At the beginning of the week, Airbnb (self-described as the world’s largest community-driven hospitality company) promoted an initiative to support refugees:

Unfortunately, what should be a separate, grievous happening has made the Airbnb initiative a target of backlash. Three suspected acts of terror once again rattled America: a mass stabbing in Minnesota and bombings in both New York and New Jersey. People are sad and angry, and they’re associating terrorism with refugees, arguably, as a matter of convenience.

The Twitterverse seems set on vilifying Airbnb’s initiative. Some go so far as to say the company is promoting terrorism.

The heart of the matter

Defined, a refugee is a person who has left their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. They are fleeing terror, not planting it. Yes, some people with evil intentions have masqueraded as refugees. Wolves masquerade as sheep.

Many UX professionals cite a deep satisfaction in their job. I believe it’s because, at its root, UX can be equated to loving people. Good user experience design requires having empathy for another person and their context. As a UX designer, I have to commend and defend Airbnb for using its business model for the greater good—to help humans in need.

Let’s applaud Airbnb for applying its domain—hospitality—to respond to a social crisis. They’re taking UX to admirable levels—above and beyond their product’s user experience, they are working to make a very hard life experience bearable for displaced people. It takes a lot of planning and resources (financial and human) to take on an initiative of this scale. Thanks for looking out for humanity, Airbnb.