Lauren Southern’s parents were planning a romantic getaway and hoped to book lodging at an Airbnb — then they were suddenly banned.
In a message sent to the parents of Lauren Southern, Airbnb declared that the couple could no longer use the service and had made the decision in order to ensure the “safety” of their “community.”
“We removed you from the Airbnb platform because you’re account is closely associated with a person who isn’t allowed to use Airbnb. This means you’ll no longer be able to book reservations on Airbnb,” the message read.
It closed by offering Southern’s parents a chance to appeal if they had “more information to share,” perhaps indicating that estranged relatives could declare their status and retain access to the platform.
It’s unclear how the service identified her parents, nor is it clear why the platform took action today, nearly four years after the service took initial action against their daughter. And, according to the counter-culture documentarian, her parents aren’t remotely political in public, nor the types to call attention to themselves.
“That’s the scary part,” said Southern on Twitter. “Someone must be actively looking into it.”
Southern, who posted a screenshot of the message Airbnb left for her parents on Twitter, said that she had never used her parent’s account to circumvent her own ban on the platform.
Now, she believes the culture war has “upped the ante.” In a statement to Timcast, she cautioned people to take notice of what she called a “new level of cruelty” and not to think they’re safe from it:
Family members are now fair game it seems. Innocents being dragged into the battlefield. If you think you’re safe from this you’re not.
I’m lucky my family love and support me even if we disagree at times. Not everyone has that luxury. People saw during COVID, how powerful the weaponization of families against one another was. How afraid will people be to speak up when one cancellation becomes a generational cancellation? Your parents, siblings and children begging you to be silent for their own futures?
It’s a new level of cruelty I hoped I would never live to see.
“All I’ve learned is that if governments and corporations can’t shut you up by harming you, they’ll now go for your families,” she said.
Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
My parents just got banned from AirBnB for being related to me.
They have never booked anything for me. They do not represent me in any way. They aren't publicly political in any way.
— Lauren Southern (@Lauren_Southern) February 7, 2023
Update: Airbnb reversed its decision to ban the account belonging to Lauren Southern’s parents the day after she posted about it.
According to Southern, the change followed mounting pressure from journalists requesting comments from the homestay company, prompting it to characterize its earlier punitive action as a “mistake.”
Southern, for her part, doesn’t buy that excuse. “How do you accidentally find a political activist’s parents and how do you accidentally write an email that specifically highlights that they’re being banned for their associations,” she asked Timcast.
“I could see someone accidentally being locked out of their account for a glitch that emails them a generic letter, this was no generic letter nor random family,” Southern said.