• Tue, Jul 16 2013

Smartphone App Lyft Led To Creeper Harassing Woman He Gave Ride To

lyft driver stalks woman

If you live in a major city, you may have heard about Lyft, an app for Android and iPhone users that connects drivers to people looking for rides. As long as you have a smartphone, a clean driving record, are over 23 and “friendly,” you can be a Lyft driver. The app aims for users to experience fun, pleasant drives with one another, encouraging fist bumps as greetings and riders to sit in the front seat rather than the backseat a la typical cabrides. Awesome, right? Well, not really, because it’s still pretty f’ing sketchy. But friendly sketchy! Except when it’s harassment.

According to a Valleywag reader, the app allowed a driver to harass her by phone for weeks after she got a ride with him. She says:

I got in his Lyft and he seemed normal. Told him I was going to NYC in a few weeks and staying in BK. Just small talk, and whatever. Got to my destination and he pulled over and parked, and asked if I would like to hang out some time, and I felt really uncomfortable being put on the spot so I gave him my number and bounced. He texted me later that day and I didn’t respond and I pretty much ignored him. THEN, Tuesday is when those texts started.

The texts are almost too obnoxious to believe.

Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman Lyft driver stalks woman

Lyft driver stalks woman

Lyft driver stalks woman

TL;DR — basically, it’s all ridiculous. Creep recap (CreepCap?):

  • Pay attention to me.
  • Oh, you’re going to a place? Me, too.
  • Pay attention to me or you’re a bad person.
  • I have cancer.
  • No I don’t.
  • Matt Damon.
  • You’re mean for not paying attention to me.

Having somebody ask for your number after a short conversation or meeting is incredibly uncomfortable. Not only does it just generally suck to make people feel rejected, it is also rather stressful; you don’t know if they will be offended enough to take it out on you or get aggressive. So sometimes, you just say yes. It isn’t to lead anybody on or hurt their feelings, it’s just because being on the spot sucks (also, we are allowed to change our minds if we decide not to hang out with somebody — shocking, I know).

I have had very few unpleasant experiences in cabs. Generally speaking, I find them to be quite safe, though there are certainly exceptions to that rule. This, on the other hand, is the equivalent of technology-facilitated hitch hiking; it is trusting somebody because they, too, have an smartphone and may or may not give you a high five when you get in their vehicle. So why are we surprised when things go awry?

Obviously, this is not remotely the woman’s fault, but in my opinion, the app gives people a false sense of security. While I’m sure most Lyft drivers are perfectly respectable, well-meaning people with zero malicious intentions, I also feel that way about most people in general; I will still not get into a car with a complete stranger.

On the bright side, Lyft showed solid business ethics and listened to the woman’s dilemma, then reacted accordingly, fixing the app so that phone numbers are now masked. Of course, you’re still be trusting a total stranger with your life, so there’s still…that.

Edit: I feel like I should explain why I found the app partially at fault. In Valleywag’s article, Sam Biddle also states that a Lyft driver had this to say regarding the system:

In the beginning [Lyft drivers had access to passenger numbers] until a bunch of drivers started saving numbers and stalking chicks. Now all numbers are masked. Not sure how it exactly works, but neither driver or passenger numbers are released.

While this situation involved a woman being harassed by a man she gave her number to, it was not the only time that the app’s usage resulted in this type of harassment. Previously, though, it apparently was directly through the app’s reveal of people’s numbers.

[Photo: Shutterstock; H/T ValleyWag]

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  • Sean

    She should have stopped responding early on, when he asked if he should stop trying.

    Actually, she probably shouldn’t have given him her number in the first place if she got a creepy vibe from him.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      As I said, sometimes weighing the pros and potential cons of giving somebody who catches you off-guard by asking for your number winds up with a decision like this — usually you assume the other person probably won’t abuse that trust anyway. I agree she probably just should have ignored him altogether from the beginning, but when it comes to anybody telling you they’re dying, the obligation to be nice is strong.

  • Emily

    Yes, he was harassing her BUT she should not have responded to him at all. Or, she could have given him a fake number or told him she had a boyfriend… He was definitely in the wrong, but she also could have taken some better measures to discourage him from contacting her.

    • Jen

      LOL or she should have known never to enter a vehicle wearing a pink mustache…

  • March

    Sooo… what exactly did the Lyft app have to do with it? I honestly don’t understand that. From the title I got the impression that he had her number because of the app, not because she gave it to him after he’d given her a ride.

    If a coffee bar guy had given her a free shot of espresso, and asked for her number, and she’d given it to him and the above had ensued, would you blame the coffee? Or the company? Or the customer service system?

    • Samantha_Escobar

      I can definitely see how that title would lead to that conclusion, my apologies. I added an edit to explain further!

    • Emmanuel Ruvalcaba

      You didnt explain that the app keeps both the driver and passengers number hidden and as a driver hes not allowed to ask for her number. Its against the rules of lyft

  • Kim

    if you didn’t want to give him your number, you should have either said no or you should have given him a fake number.

  • Jake

    Way to misquote the article you’re basing this off of. Nowhere does it say that the app allowed her to get harrasssed.

  • Jake

    And do you have anything to back up your claim that “it was not the only time that the app’s usage resulted in this type of harassment” ?

  • Cee

    I see a lot of “she should just not have responded.” I get why she could have chosen to do so though. When a guy I knew kept harassing me and threatening me, I would respond here and there because I was afraid and needed to see that he 1. if he was anywhere near me and 2. that he was harmless. I would tell him that I didn’t want to talk to him, as she did in the texts, yet kinda allowed a bit of conversation just to “check in” with his mental state and make sure he wasn’t going to try to kill me. Once I felt completely safe (or as safe as possible), I followed through and stopped replying. It is irrational and rational at the same time. Its just you never know what to do around a creeper to keep yourself safe.

  • yermom72

    Hmmm, the guy had a pink mustache ON HIS CAR…. wasn’t that a danger sign right there?

  • Michael Konowitz

    First: This is awful. The girl’s not to blame for a dude not getting the hint…although reading the full interaction she really should learn (for her own safety throughout the world) to be more firm in the future and not give any hope to someone like that that she might be open to continuing to talk, much less meeting. Still, we can’t blame the victim-she was most likely acting out of insecurity and having a good heart-not wanting to hurt someone.

    Lyft: “…we have a support case that matches both timing and story details, and that driver’s account was disabled.”
    No service is perfect-there are plenty of creepy, horrible, even rape stories from cabs too, but thanks to Lyft’s safety/accountability measures that no cab I’ve ever been in or heard of has (there are several features, but in this case the one that matters most is the receipt w/driver name that gets sent automatically to the rider’s email) it’s relatively if not extremely easy to track the offender down.

  • Victor Nascimento

    Yeah sorry, the dude is dense and annoying and did get rude but they share the blame for that. The guy asking her politely it seemed if she would like to hang out sometime if he liked her is pretty damn normal the problem was that instead of saying “not really, but thank for the ride” (what I would have said in that situation…) she gives him her number. Which to him, not surprisingly, shows interest. Then she tries to contact her by text and instead of just replaying saying it’s not gonna happen she gives giving him vague responses and making excuses and keeping the conversation going, which is pretty annoying just reading it. He absolutely should have stopped bothering her when she said stop contacting her, but up to that point him not getting it, though stupid, is hardly harassment, though after that yes. He needs to grow up and be less entitled and clueless and disrespectful, but she needs to grow up too and learn to be more straight forward.

  • phebz

    She kinda did provoke it afterwards with all the texting. If she had said,’do not contact me anymore” from the beginning, it wouldnt have led on so far

  • Cheryl Murray

    He never should have asked for her number. Highly unprofessional. I do hope she reported him and that he was suitably dealt with.

    • Emmanuel Ruvalcaba

      Exactly. Its actually against our company policy for drivers to request personal information from passengers.

  • Dan

    Not well formed or written

  • Adam

    I’m a Lyft driver and there are screenings involved in getting a job with them. There is an interview, car inspection, background check, etc. It is a process that is very similar to most other jobs. Its not like you download the app and go straight to work.

  • Emmanuel Ruvalcaba

    Calling lyft sketchy because of one stupid driver is even more stupid. Theres a reason the app has double blind privacy for the phone numbers of driver and passenger. As a driver its against the rules to ask for personal information unless the passenger offers it.