Chinese Uber Rival Didi Chuxing Overhauls App After Passenger Death

Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing announced a series of changes to its service after a passenger was raped and killed by her driver, reports The New York Times.

Li Mingzhu, a 21-year-old flight attendant, was found dead Saturday after hailing a ride from Didi in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, according to Chinese state media. Police are reportedly still searching for the driver, surnamed Liu, who abandoned the car and jumped into a river after allegedly killing Li.

The incident triggered a wave of criticism into the way Didi runs its ride-hailing app, with women saying that the app allows drivers to leave comments on their profiles regarding their appearances, according to The New York Times. Both riders and drivers typically upload photos to their user profiles, and the Didi app allows other users to attach notes to these profile pictures.

Didi suspended its Hitch carpooling service, which Liu was using at the time of Li’s death, May 12. In a press release, the company said it also removed “all personalized tags and ratings features” in user profiles, as well as profile photos.

“Personal information and profile pictures of passengers and car-owners will be visible only to the individual himself or herself,” Didi said. “All publicly-displayed profile pictures will be replaced with a system-generated default image.” An emergency button will also be more prominently displayed on the app’s home screen.

After Hitch service resumes, Didi will suspend it nightly between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. for an indefinite period while it evaluates the effectiveness of the new safety policies. The company will also implement stricter standards for driver screenings across all of its services.

Didi said it will ask every driver to pass a “facial recognition test” every day, and is instituting a “zero-tolerance policy” for drivers faking accounts. The company also said it would consider mandatory audio recordings of every ride for use as evidence in disputes between drivers and riders.

“We are committed to fully taking our due legal responsibilities related to traffic accident, public security, criminal cases, and disputes on our platform,” the company said. The safety overhaul follows moves by Didi’s United States counterparts to better address the issue of violence against their passengers.

Earlier this week, both Uber and Lyft announced that they would no longer require claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment to go to arbitration. The two major U.S. ride-hailing companies will also no longer require passengers to sign confidentiality agreements in order to settle claims, and will compile reports on rates of sexual assault claims.

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