Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is being targeted for his relationship with President Donald Trump and for trying to profit off the protests that arose at several airports after an executive order banned travel to the United States from seven majority Muslim countries.
Earlier on his Facebook page, Kalanick wrote that “thousands” of Uber drivers would be hurt by the ban and he would raise his concerns over them with the president during an advisory group meeting in Washington. However, after the loud condemnations of CEOs from different industries, his response appeared lukewarm at best and Twitter users took to criticizing him for agreeing to sit on Trump’s advisory panel under the hashtag of #DeleteUber.
Then, after demonstrating crowds thronged the airport on Saturday night at NYC’s John F. Kennedy airport, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTXA) went on strike in solidarity with the protesters. However, Uber not only continued to give rides to and from the airport but also did not charge more during the strike (as is usual when demand for rides is high). According to some social media users, the act was meant to break up the strike while simultaneously profiting off it by undercutting taxi drivers when they returned to work.
The move was yet another strike against Kalanick.
The transportation company quickly tried to do damage control and released a statement claiming it was “sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet — it was not meant to break up any strike. We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially last night.”
But the damage was done. Thousands of social media users vowed never to use the service again and posted pics of them deleting the Uber apps from their phones.
Deleted Uber app and my phone works much better--I'm not a techie, but it seems like hate uses up a lot of RAM. #deleteuber— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 30, 2017
On Sunday, Kalanick once again responded to the controversy by calling the travel ban “wrong and unjust” and vowing to “create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.” However, internet users did not buy it and considered it to be a response to the #DeleteUber movement.
At the same time that users were bashing Kalanick, rival service Lyft issued a statement slamming Trump’s executive orders and vowed to donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years to defend immigrants’ rights.
Many social media users immediately spoke up about their intention to switch to Lyft.
Beyond the official statements, Uber has declined to comment.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters