Ride-sharing Giant “Uber” Has Hit Another PR Pothole
The past few months have been a rough ride for Uber.
The ride sharing giant is lacking a signal when it comes to how it treats it’s employees. A few weeks ago a video showing Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, arguing with a driver over driver pay revealed some of the company’s ailments, yet it doesn’t stop there. A female software engineer has come forward to report sexual abuse. Now, Uber is accused of using certain tools to deceive Oregon government officials.
Notorious for it’s ‘win at all costs’ attitude, the privately owned 60 Billion dollar tech behemoth doesn’t hesitate to meddle with its competitors, let alone government officials. In 2014 the company used a tool named Greyball to identify Portland officials who would routinely monitor the app to see if the company was operating illegally in the city. Despite using alias accounts, Uber would show the officials falsified versions of the app that would look exactly like the real thing with ‘fake drivers’ and all, but nobody would come.
When Uber was confronted about Greyball they stated:
This program denies ride requests to fraudulent users who are violating our terms of service, whether that’s people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’ meant to entrap drivers.”
According to the initial report in the New York Times, Uber would determine who was a government official by monitoring trends in the data. Geolocation, app usage, credit card information, and social media profiles were all considered when determining who exactly the targets were.
That’s not all Uber knows about it’s drivers either. They know how they drive, and if they drive for another ride sharing company; as many do.
Furthermore, the company is now facing a massive lawsuit for ‘stealing’ intellectual property from Google self driving car program. Thus after only six months in the position, Jeff Jones is stepping down as president of Uber.
In a statement Jones said:
The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business,”
The repeated relentless deception, the abuse of data, and its treatment of its employees are making it very hard for the company to ever be considered a ‘moral’ and ‘exemplary’ tech company. This can be dangerous when your competition is right around the corner and only a download away.