Have you been following what’s going on with Uber? Just following Matt Taylor’s #shirtgate, an even greater tale of journalism versus sexism and misogyny, as well as privacy concerns and bad business practices have caused this week’s new tech trend: deactivating and deleting Uber accounts.
Uber is an app like Lyft that allows you to hire top-rated private car and taxi services at the press of a button. In the last few months, Uber (which is valued over a whopping $18.2 billion) has been under fire following a myriad of privacy and ethical issues surrounding the app’s data usage and accusations of journalists being intimidated out of writing negative press, sexism, misogyny, and the list keeps growing.
When Disruption Becomes A Bad Thing
Back in 2012, Pando writer Paul Carr noted that Uber’s usage of the word disruption might have a negative meaning behind it. He also pointed out that Uber views both drivers and passengers as disposable commodities, all in the name of maximizing profits. Paul uninstalled the app after writing that piece and this was only the beginning of the press’ awareness of Uber’s soon to be tirade of all-out douchey behavior and bad business practices. Uber is a disruptor, alright.
Over the last year, the word disruptor has captured our hearts with a refreshing ideology that innovative tech start-ups can provide radical positive change to the world. However, it’s apparent that a sinister agenda also exists in what is known as Silicon Valley’s Cult of Disruption.
But, for why are some innovators in Silicon Valley harboring so much contempt for good ol’ fashioned start-ups? In these days of UPgradia, describing a product as innovative now seems as stupendous as As Seen On TV and the last thing young go-getter techies want is to seem generic.
Disruption, however, redefined innovators in a way that felt rebellious in a V-For Vendetta sort of way…but, it’s clear that there are start-ups out there that have taken the whole disruption thing too far and the poster child of such negative disruptors might just be Uber.
How Uber Became A Major Turn-Off
Uber’s Website Demands You To Allow Them To Know Your Location
Right now as I’m typing this, I visited Uber’s desktop sign-up site and guess what? When you visit it, a pop-up appears asking you to “Allow” Uber to use your current location. When I clicked “Don’t Allow,” it froze my screen until I chose “Remember my decision for one day.” *SIGH*
Uber’s Unfair Surge Pricing Practices
According to the New York Times, Uber CEO defended Uber’s surge pricing practices on New Year’s Eve, when some riders were charged more than $100 for a ride that should have cost $20.
Uber’s Hyper-Competitive Tactics
Back in August 2014, TechCrunch reported that Uber gave contractors phones and credit cards to create fake Lyft accounts to recruit drivers and create false demand which led to over 5,000 lost rides. This was the beginning of what would eventually brand Uber as using “hyper-competitive tactics.”
Uber’s Creepy Stalking And Utter Disregard For User Privacy
Each time Uber would launch in a new large city, the company would invite the “local tech glitterati” for craft cocktails, canapés, and a presentation by Uber’s CEO Travis Kanalick. At each party, attendees would be treated to Uber’s secret “God View,” which allows them to see all of the Ubers in a city and the silhouettes of waiting Uber users who have flagged cars. Later on at the Chicago launch party, Uber treated guests to Creepy Stalker View, which showed the whereabouts and movements of 30 Uber users in New York in real time which was interesting, until one attendee recognized venture capitalist Peter Sims in an Uber car at 33rd and 5th, texted him and the rest was history.
Then came another incident when Buzzfeed News reporter Johana Bhuiyan showed up at Uber’s New York headquarters for a meeting. When she arrived, Uber’s New York general manager Josh Mohrer reportedly met her outside and told her he had been tracking her Uber ride to the office. This was two months after Mohrer had emailed Bhuiyan records of her previous Uber activity, which Bhuiyan never requested nor authorized him to access.
Uber’s (Potentially Fabricated) Promise Of Background Checks For All Drivers
January 2014 – Pando writer Carmel Deamicis shared that in December 2013, an Uber driver in San Francisco had been accused of verbally and physically assaulting a passenger, James Alva. According to Alva, the driver called him a “dirty Mexican faggot” and then struck him several times when Alva tried to take a photo of him and his license plate to send to Uber.
Uber confirmed that the attacker was an Uber driver. However, since the police did not arrest the driver when called to the scene, the company chose not to investigate the incident any further. Uber deleted the driver’s account.
Pando had since learned that the driver – 28-year-old San Francisco resident Daveea Whitmire – has a criminal record, including felony and misdemeanor charges, and at least one felony conviction involving prison time.
UberX driver Syed Muzaffer was arrested for vehicular manslaughter after killing a six year old girl with his car on New Years Eve in San Francisco of this yeari. Turns out he had a conviction for reckless driving 10 years ago that Uber didn’t pick up on, and the company is now facing a wrongful death suit.
Uber driver Tadeusz Szczechowicz was discovered by the Chicago Tribune in February 2014 for past convictions including “felony residential burglary… misdemeanor criminal damage to property… and another misdemeanor for breaking into a 2002 Toyota for a GPS and satellite receiver… a history of speeding tickets and had his licence suspended twice in 2008 for having two moving violations with a 24-month period.” Worryingly, reported the Tribune, “Only the felony conviction… should have disqualified Szczechowicz to be an Uber ride-share driver under the company’s rules.” Source