In the hours after a Monday afternoon protest against Uber's recent fare cuts in San Francisco, drivers began circulating a video of an Uber staffer recording footage of the protest on his phone. Some expressed concern that the staffer was recording participating drivers' license plate numbers, and that the footage would be used to deactivate or otherwise punish drivers for protesting. Uber made the fare cuts in contention last month in order to, it says, increase demand during a notoriously slow period.
The employee, who BuzzFeed News confirmed is a senior administrative staffer at Uber named Tyler Blum, was recording the footage to turn over to the company's security team, according to Uber. But a company spokesperson says Blum was simply monitoring the protest to ensure nothing got out of hand, and neither he nor the company has any intention of taking action against the protesting drivers.
Monitoring protests is common practice at Uber where, as a spokesperson said, employees "often receive death threats" or are subject to harassment. "Uber employees are often the victims of abuse, including, sadly, death threats," the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "It's something we don't talk about widely because publicity exacerbates the problem. To keep our employees safe, we carefully watch what's happening online, at our offices and partner support centers — including during protests."
Furthermore, Uber said it will not take action against drivers who protest. "Uber respects our partners' first amendment rights," the spokesperson said. "We do not — and have not — taken action against drivers who protest."
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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