On March 6, Buzzfeed published a news report on Uber revealing that the car share service had received five rape claims and 170 claims of sexual assault between December 2012 and August 2015. Uber quickly, and vehemently, refuted this claim. But now they admit that the grounds for their rebuttal were false because, well, of course they are.
Buzzfeed’s report included telling screenshots from Uber’s Zendesk-powered customer support system. Claims with the subjects “Sexual Assault” and “Rape” follow one after the next. However, Uber contended that the “Zendesk screenshots...were ‘highly misleading’ and contained false matches.” Signed by three executives, the letter sent to Buzzfeed “offered three explanations for the prevalence of the word rape in its system. The second of these stated: ‘Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included.’” Hmm.
As it turns out, Uber’s explanation is fiction, something Buzzfeed learned and confirmed with Zendesk before the car service sent a corrective note. Nonetheless, on March 7, around 1:10 p.m., Buzzfeed received the following update from Uber:
“*An earlier version of this post stated that ‘Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included. After analyzing the data, we found more than 11,000 rider names and 17,500 rider emails with the letters ‘rape.’’
Zendesk, one of our customer support platforms, contacted us to say that their search tool would not return a name such a ‘Don Draper’ when searching for the word ‘rape.’ However, such a search would (and did) return names that start with the letters R, A, P, E — even if the ticket itself had nothing to do with a claim of rape. We apologize to Zendesk for using an imperfect (and fictitious) example that doesn’t accurately represent their search functionality. This does not impact our analysis of the overall numbers, which was based on a manual review of these tickets rather than a simple keyword search.”
According to Buzzfeed, Zendesk contacted Uber regarding the falsity of their explanation after Buzzfeed reached out to them to clarify the system’s functionality. And whatever elliptical logic the car share service provides, the fact remains that women have reported being raped and assaulted by their Uber drivers many, many times.
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