NEW YORK — Uber is taking some serious heat on social media after people felt the company responded inappropriately to President Trump’s Muslim ban.
Trump issued a sweeping immigration order on Friday, banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. By Saturday afternoon, protests had sprung up at airports around the country, where more than 100 visa holders were in limbo after the executive order.
In solidarity, the New York City Taxi Worker’s Alliance called for a complete stop to pickups at JFK airport, where two Iraqis were being detained.
Uber, however, said that it was suspending surge pricing from JFK — effectively lowering the cost of a ride.
The backlash was swift. #DeleteUber started trending on Twitter, with people sharing photos of the “delete” screen on their phone and likening Uber’s move to crossing the picket lines.
Early Sunday morning, Uber tweeted that the move was not meant to break up the strike. The company pointed to CEO Travis Kalanick’s Facebook post Saturday, in which he said the company was working to identify drivers from the seven countries who could be impacted by the ban. For those currently stuck outside the United States, Kalanick said Uber would help compensate for their missed wages during the 90-day period of the ban.
But in his post, Kalanick also reiterated the importance of working with Trump, something he stressed to employees at an all hands meeting last week. Kalanick is a member of Trump’s business advisory group, which will have its first meeting this Friday, he said.
Meanwhile, Uber’s biggest competitor, Lyft, took a decidedly different stance. The company emailed customers Sunday morning, condemning Trump’s order. Lyft called the executive order “antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values.” Lyft also said it was donating $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years.
Uber has come under fire before for its willingness to work with Trump’s administration. On Inauguration Day, protesters stood in front of Uber’s San Francisco office holding a sign that read: “Uber collaborates with Trump.”
“Whatever your view, please know that I’ve always believed in principled confrontation and just change; and have never shied away (maybe to my detriment) from fighting for what’s right,” Kalanick said in his post.