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Didi Removes Social Features After Passenger Killed

China’s ride-sharing leader Didi has disabled pictures, ratings and public tags from its carpooling service after one of its passengers was killed. Photo: IC
China’s ride-sharing leader Didi has disabled pictures, ratings and public tags from its carpooling service after one of its passengers was killed. Photo: IC

China’s biggest ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing, will disable features such as profile pictures, ratings and public tags from its car-pooling service, as it looks to win back trust following the killing of a passenger that sparked questions about safety.

The 21-year-old female victim, a flight attendant, was killed this month while traveling from an airport hotel to the downtown area of the Eastern Chinese city of Zhengzhou. Her driver — the suspected killer — bypassed defective safety controls in the app.

Didi said it will disable carpooling at night and make facial recognition checks compulsory for drivers.

It also proposed recording audio for every trip as an added security measure on its car-pooling feature — Didi Hitch, which was temporarily suspended this week.

The ride-sharing firm has already apologized for the death of the passenger. Didi has said its facial recognition mechanism was defective and had failed to verify the driver accused of killing the passenger.

The male suspect had used a driver account that belonged to his father, contrary to Didi’s policy, the company has said.

Following news of the death, users have criticized Didi’s efforts to market Hitch as a “social car-pooling” service, which allowed drivers to create public tags for passengers, including physical features, gender and age.

On Wednesday, Didi said profile pictures on the service will be replaced with generic images and that the service will only be available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

It also said it will extend facial recognition requirements to its other services and redesign its emergency help function.

Didi — which is valued at $50 billion and counts SoftBank Group Corp. as a major investor — is expanding overseas, targeting new markets in Mexico, Brazil and Australia where it will go head-to-head with Uber.

After acquiring Uber’s China business in 2016, Didi controls more than 90% of the country’s ride-hailing market, giving users few alternative options, although new players have begun to edge their way into the market.

Reuters

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