A recent study has found that black passengers have a higher chance of having their rides cancelled in ridesharing apps. In a study titled “When Transparency Fails: Bias and Financial Incentives in Ridesharing Platforms,” American University professors Jorge Meija and Chris Chris Parker found that black passengers are three times more likely to have their rides cancelled than white people.
For the study, Meija and Parker made accounts in various ridesharing apps under the names Latoya, Keisha, Rasheed, Jamal, Emily, Allison and Brad to asses the bias of drivers. Parker and Meija said that previous studies have found that people usually assume what race the person is based on these names. On some of the profiles, they added filters that let drivers now the people behind the profile were supporters or a part of the the LGBTQ community.
“We know that LGBTQ riders face discrimination with these rideshare apps, but we thought that it was an interesting little twist, that even just signaling your support for the LGBTQ community could result in a canceled ride,” Parker said. In the study.
Besides black people being three times more likely to have their rides cancelled, showing support for the LGBTQ community with a rainbow filter doubled chances of a ride being cancelled across all races.
Parker and Meija recommended that the people behind the apps and policymakers penalize drivers that show biased cancellation behaviors. They also recommended not sharing so many demographic facts about the rider requesting the ride to decrease biased cancellations.
“There’s a lot of next-step actions platforms might consider to ensure a good outcome and that everybody has a safe, comfortable, noncombative ride,” Parker said.