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Thursday, February 02, 2023

Community members boycott Uber app after protests

Uber Autonomous Cars
Uber Autonomous Cars

When transportation app Uber began offering cheap rides during a taxi strike against President Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban, UF student Yousef Alghawi deleted the app from his phone.

“I think it’s pure exploitation,” the 21-year-old political science junior said. “I come from a Muslim background and most of my family members, many of my friends, and I as well deleted the app.”

After Trump issued an order to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries Friday, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance announced it would halt all services in solidarity with those who were barred from entering the country, according to the alliance’s Facebook page.

On the same day, Uber NYC took to Twitter and removed all surge prices at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday as an incentive for users.

Across social media, the hashtag #deleteUber took off, as users began deleting the app as a response to what they saw as the company taking advantage of the strike.

By Sunday, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted that the immigration ban is “against everything Uber stands for.”

For Alghawi, the apology came too late.

“It’s a PR move where you’re straight up denouncing what you’re benefiting from directly,” he said.

After deleting the ride-hailing app, Alghawi said he plans to use Lyft, a competitor of Uber which plans to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years. He feels sympathetic to Uber drivers, but Alghawi said he feels strongly about boycotting the company’s leadership.

Jose Vilches, 23, an Uber driver in Gainesville, said he is also against Trump’s immigration ban and doesn’t have a problem with those who delete the app.

“I think it’s important for every- body to exercise that right,” the UF industrial and systems engineering senior said.

Vilches said he believes Uber took advantage of the taxi strike to make a profit.

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“From an employment perspective, it’s not enough for me to quit,” Vilches said. “But as for others that want to boycott, more power to them.”

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