Tech Trends: Buzzfeed versus Uber rape report


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A popular blog claims it acquired screenshots that show that Uber has had thousands of customer service complaints that include the word “rape” or “sexual assault.”

The story was buzzing in the tech world on Monday, and of course, it brings up a bigger concern for Uber users. Is the ride-sharing service safe?

Tech Trends reporter Gabe Slate heard from both sides and breaks down this controversy.

Buzzfeed News claims a former customer service rep for Uber shared with them screenshots they took while logged into Uber’s customer service system that appears to reveal some shocking data.

But Uber said the way they came up with this data makes it look a lot worse than it actually is.

Buzzfeed News claims it has a screenshot from Uber’s Zendesk customer support platform where the word “rape” was searched from Dec. 2012 through Aug. 2015.

So, this was supposedly searching all of Uber’s customer complaints or incident reports with the word “rape”. 5,827 individual tickets pop up that include that word.

And in a screenshot, a search with the words “sexual assault” returned 6,160 customer support tickets. It’s not hard to understand why the article was sitting at the top of the Buzzfeed News web page.

And it’s being passed around all over the internet and social media.

Uber confirms those screen shots are real but says it does not mean that there have been that many complaints about rape or sexual assault.

Uber said they have had five customer tickets that allege an actual rape occurred and 170 tickets with a legitimate claim of sexual assault, in the three years in question.

They said their analysis of these results would conclude that 1 in every 3.3 million Uber rides has resulted in a complaint of rape or sexual assault.

Uber says search results for the word “rape” will include any tickets created that have words that start with the letters R,A,P,and E.

They said there are a lot of last names and email addresses out there that contain those letters like Raper, Rapeopore, Rapeowitz, names like that.

Also, any street names in the tickets that start with R,A,P,and E will show up as a result–like 1324 Raper Avenue.

Uber said riders that create these customer service tickets also often misspell the word “rate” as “rape” which falsely boosts the search results as well.

And Uber points out anytime a customer uses the word out of context of sexual assault, it could pop up.

An example given was a comment like this, “that Uber ride raped my wallet”. Comments like that will show up in the search result.

Uber also said a lot of customers will contact their customer support system asking about alleged rapes or sexual assaults they heard about in the news.

Those types of inquiries will also pop up the results because they contain the words in question.


Uber response –

Buzzfeed article –

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