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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It Might Be Impossible to Get Away From Uber

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 7:12 AM

click to enlarge uber.png
On Monday, Buzzfeed rattled the internet by revealing Uber executive Emil Michael's plans to launch smear campaigns against journalists who don't toe the Uber company line. 

Michael floated the idea on Friday, during a dinner at Manhattan's Waverly Inn. He suggested that Uber hire its own team of opposition researchers to discredit its enemies in the media — specifically PandoDaily founder Sarah Lacy, who became an instant cause celebre. Michael later said he regretted the comments and believed he'd made them "off the record."

Meanwhile, other journalists announced that they, too, had been trolled — or at least intimidated — after reporting on Uber:

That led some of their peers to wonder how difficult it is to extricate one's self from the car-hire platform.

Turns out it's a byzantine process that might ultimately be fruitless.

"If you've recently tried to cancel your Uber account, you may have noticed that the process is somewhat counter-intuitive," the website wikiHow explains. "In fact, this task isn't even addressed on Uber's official 'Help' page."

One way is to go to Uber's Help Center, contact the company's customer support, and submit a form asking them to delete your account. Another is to try old-fashioned email:

But Uber's terms of service agreement also suggests that the company keeps your data even after you've canceled:
We will retain your Personal Information and Usage Information (including geo-location) for as long as your account with the Services is active and as needed to provide you services. Even after your account is terminated, we will retain your Personal Information and Usage Information (including geo-location, trip history, credit card information and transaction history) as needed to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations, resolve disputes, conclude any activities related to cancellation of an account (such as addressing chargebacks from your credit card companies), investigate or prevent fraud and other inappropriate activity, to enforce our agreements, and for other business reason. After a period of time, your data may be anonymized and aggregated, and then may be held by us as long as necessary for us to provide our Services effectively, but our use of the anonymized data will be solely for analytic purposes.
That may be common practice for tech platforms, as many Facebook defectors can attest. When you commit Facebook suicide, the company still has a long data trail from all the status updates and messages you've posted, and all the things you've liked.

Turns out your seemingly innocuous ride-finder profile might also be indelible. 

But hey, that's a cornerstone of the company's innovative business strategy:

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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