On Monday, BuzzFeed reported about possible ethics and privacy issues at Uber, the ride-sharing social service:
"A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company."
The executive was Emil Michael, a senior vice president:
"Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service."
Then, BuzzFeed reported on Wednesday that Uber:
What the "God View" tool is and does:
"Tracking customers is easy... two former Uber employees told BuzzFeed News. They said God View, which shows the location of Uber vehicles and customers who have requested a car, was widely available to corporate employees. Drivers, who operate as contractors, do not have access to God View."
Uber is headquartered in San Francisco. Travis Kalanick is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. Salle Yoo is the General Counsel. The list of investors includes actor Ashton Kutcher, Goldman Sachs, and Google Ventures. The Daily Beast listed ten Uber horror stories customers experienced. Rightly so, Uber executives face tough questions in Congress.
"Uber has been come to known for its aggressive tactics, including making controversial statements, attempting to undercut its key rival Lyft by poaching their drivers and heavily criticizing the taxi industry's traditional way of doing business. Where does it all come from? Three of the values that employees are judged on are "fierceness," "super pumpedness" and "scale" (increasing the number of users)..."
Regardless of whether or not Michael stays at Uber, the issues remain regarding privacy, tracking of customers, and a questionable corporate culture. And, I'm sure that many government spy and law enforcement agencies would eagerly use, if they don't already, geolocation output from the God View tool.
If you use Uber, what are your opinions of the service? Of the God View tool? Do you turst Uber? Do you trust other social networking services not to track real-time, via their mobile apps, your physical movements?