Why Your Social Media Feed May Be Filled With Pledges To #DeleteUber

Over the weekend and this morning, your social media feed may be filled with friends urging others to #DeleteUber and stop using the ride-hailing service. How does a popular app go from top of the heap to boycott target in just a few days?

While the hashtag spread quickly, it’s still unclear what effect #DeleteUber will have on Uber’s business in the long term. Here’s what led to the sudden birth of the boycott:

Friday, Jan. 27

• President Trump signs an executive order temporarily barring refugees from entering the U.S. and heavily restricting travel — even by people previously approved for entry into the country — from seven nations.

Saturday, Jan. 28

Thousands of people show up to protest at airports around the country where travelers from those countries are being detained, including New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Denver International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and others. While some protesters use public transportation to get to these airports, others use cabs or ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber.

• Meanwhile, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issues a statement addressing the ban, saying the company is working out a process to identify any drivers that may be affected by the ban, and “compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table,” adding that he’ll bring up the ban during Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.

• At around 5 p.m., the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance announces a strike at JFK, where two Iraqi travelers were being detained, saying that no cabs will pick up or drop off passengers.

• Close to 7:30 p.m., Uber suspends surge pricing from JFK, lowering the cost of a ride, and prompting many to call out the company as a strike-breaker.

According to the Daily Beast, Twitter user Dan O’Sullivan was the first to tweet the hashtag #DeleteUber, writing:

• The backlash continues as many Uber users join in, sharing photos of the “delete” prompt on their phone using the new hashtag.

Sunday, Jan. 29

Lyft announces it will donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union in response to the travel ban.

“Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote. “We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”

The move prompts many on social media to promise they will instead download Lyft.

Uber issues an apology on Twitter, saying it didn’t mean to break up any strike.

• The company’s NYC branch also issues a longer statement to various media outlets.

“We’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet — it was not meant to break up any strike,” the company said. “We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially last night.”

Uber posts a second statement to its blog, addressed to drivers affected by “President Trump’s unjust immigration and travel ban.”

The company pledged to do “everything we can to help these drivers,” including providing legal support for drivers trying to re-enter the U.S., and a pledge to create a $3 million legal defense fund for “drivers with immigration and translation services.”

Whether the #DeleteUber movement has any long-lasting impact on the ride-sharing service remains to be seen.

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