Uber, the popular car service app, has been in the news a lot lately, and in the worst possible way. Earlier this year The Verge wrote about their competitive tactics, which to many crossed the line beyond competition. More recently, Pando Daily called Uber out over apparent sexism in their corporate culture. Buzzfeed exposed an incredibly inappropriate ad campaign. And Pando Daily revealed another series of serious allegations. Then, last night, Buzzfeed watched as an Uber executive, Emil Michael... Well, read for yourself:
Over dinner, [Michael] outlined the notion of spending "a million dollars" to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they'd look into "your personal lives, your families," and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. [...] Uber's dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.
Lacy was informed of what was said, and wrote the following on Pando Daily:
A chill ran down my spine that had little to do with the weather, as he described the bizarre interaction. I immediately thought of my kids at home halfway around the world, just getting out of their baths and groggily pulling on their pajamas, and how the new line that this company was willing to cross would affect them.
Add to all this new allegations of privacy violations by Buzzfeed and it paints a startling picture beyond and behind the cars.
On a recent episode of Vector, Georgia Dow, Dave Wiskus, Marco Arment, and I talked about whether the ethics (or lack thereof) of an artist should be taken into consideration when viewing their art. For example, does and should Adam Baldwin's actions around GamerGate affect our enjoyment of Firefly or Chuck? The same question can be asked of apps. Does and should the actions of Uber executives affect our enjoyment of the Uber service?
Based on my Twitter feed today, a lot of people in the tech industry are deciding to delete Uber — that the ethics of the company absolutely influences their ability to use the service.
I've used Uber a lot when in San Francisco. My last two trips, I've subsisted on it. Next time, I'm going try Lyft.
I'm curious how far reaching that sentiment is, though. Are people even aware of the company behind the service, and if they are, do they care? While I can't ask everyone, I can ask you — let me know if you'll be deleting the Uber app in the poll up top and then, if you feel comfortable, let me know why or why not in the comments below.