Study: Black/LGBT Rideshare Users Cancelled On Constantly

Photo by Alex Nemo Hanse on Unsplash

If you’re Black or LGBTQ, be careful when calling a ride.

A new study shares that LGBTQ people and Black people are most at risk of having their rideshares cancelled.

For years now, minority rideshare users have faced discrimination based on race and sexual orientation. We’ve seen several news stories of gay couples being kicked out of cars after sharing a kiss, holding hands, or just having an effeminate voice (on a gay man).

To fight this, apps and platforms like Uber and Lyft have attempted to remove rider information like gender and race. This way, divers can’t cancel or reject riders based on basic factors of being. But according to a recent study, this isn’t working.

“By removing the ability to see information before the drivers accepted a ride request, the hope was that all of the bias we were observing would cease to exist,” said Chris Parker, “When Transparency Fails: Bias and Financial Incentives in Ridesharing Platforms” study co-author and assistant professor of information technology and analytics at American, said to NBC News. “But after the change was instituted, we suspected that there’s still the problem of some drivers not wanting to pick up certain passengers.”

 The study specifically consisted of an account with multiple rideshare profiles. Each fabricated passenger had a 4.8 rating and different personas. One profile was of a black woman named Keisha or Latoya, one of a black man named Rasheed or Jamal, one of a white woman named Emily or Allison, and one of a white man named Brad or Greg. In addition, rainbow filters were added to some of the profiles to experiment with LGBTQ bias.

Photo by Joshua Oluwagbemiga on Unsplash

Parker and his research partner Jorge Meija, an assistant professor of operations and decision technologies at Indiana University, then ordered rides across Washington, D.C. while altering the gender, race, rainbow filter of profiles and timing of ride requests. If the rider had not cancelled the ride within three mins of ordering a pickup, Parker and Meija would cancel the rides themselves.

After 3,200 ride requests, Parker and Meija determined there was no bias against women riders compared to their male counterparts. That said, there was bias elsewhere. Black men and women experienced nearly three times more cancellations than their white peers. In addition, LGBTQ passengers with a rainbow filter had double the chances of being canceled than their non-rainbow filtered peers.

“We know that LGBTQ riders face discrimination with these rideshare apps, but we thought that it was an interesting little twist, that even just signaling your support for the LGBTQ community could result in a canceled ride,” said Parker.

With these results in hand, Parker suggests that rideshare platforms reflect on the timing of information given to rideshare drivers. In addition, he had the idea of penalizing drivers if they show too much bias when cancelling riders or rewarding drivers with low cancellation rates.

“There’s a lot of next-step actions platforms might consider to ensure a good outcome and that everybody has a safe, comfortable, noncombative ride,” Parker stated.

Source: NBC News

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