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    ‘China’s Uber’ changes service blamed for flight attendant’s death
    ‘China’s Uber’ changes service blamed for flight attendant’s death
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    ‘China’s Uber’ changes service blamed for flight attendant’s death

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    by
    Grace Tsoi
    Grace Tsoi
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    China's largest car-hailing service Didi Chuxing has unveiled sweeping changes to its carpooling unit, which was implicated in the suspected rape and murder of a young flight attendant.

    The 21 year-old woman was allegedly raped and murdered by a driver at Didi Hitch, an UberPool-like service that allows multiple passengers to share a ride, on May 6.

    Didi has vowed to remove the most controversial feature at Hitch: a rating system which was often used by the mostly male drivers to comment on the physical attractiveness of passengers.

    Inkstone wrote about this controversial system on Tuesday.

    This old ad shows how Didi Hitch users could make comments on other users. Some tags include "quiet, pretty girl" and "handsome."
    This old ad shows how Didi Hitch users could make comments on other users. Some tags include "quiet, pretty girl" and "handsome." Photo: Zhihu
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    Labels like “pretty girl”, “long legs” and “gentle and charming” appeared to be generated by the system, two drivers currently working at Hitch had told Inkstone.

    Since the killing, both passengers and drivers have criticized the review system for making female passengers vulnerable to sexual harassment or sexual assault.

    Female Didi users across the country have changed their profile photos to mask their identities and gender information.

    Didi said all personalized tags will be taken down, once the service resumes. Hitch has been suspended since the weekend and will remain offline until May 19 for an investigation.

    In addition, only account owners will be able to view their profile photos and other personal information on their user pages. Hitch will also no longer offer trips between the hours of 10 pm to 6 am.

    “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 in a statement.

    The alleged murder of the flight attendant has led to a public outcry.

    All Didi drivers will have to pass a facial recognition test every day.
    All Didi drivers will have to pass a facial recognition test every day. Photo: Reuters

    Company-wide measures

    Didi’s internal investigation revealed that the suspect, driver Liu Zhenhua, used his father's account, violating the Hitch’s terms of service. The app’s facial recognition function was also not activated that night.

    Didi – whose investors include tech giants like Apple, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – has announced that from May 31, all Didi drivers will have to pass a facial recognition test daily before being able to use the app.

    The platform is also exploring a proposal to voice record every ride, to resolve potential disputes between passengers and drivers. The company is seeking comment from the public.

    Didi is the largest ride-sharing platform in China, but local rivals have emerged.
    Didi is the largest ride-sharing platform in China, but local rivals have emerged. Photo: Reuters

    Valued at $56 billion (roughly the same as Uber) Didi is the biggest car-hailing platform in China. Two years ago, it acquired Uber’s business in China.

    Didi is expanding into overseas markets including Mexico and Brazil. But at home, the company is facing challengers such as Meituan Dianping and the Alibaba-owned AutoNavi (Inkstone is also owned by Alibaba).

    GRACE TSOI
    GRACE TSOI
    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.

    GRACE TSOI
    GRACE TSOI
    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.

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