US President Donald Trump's controversial executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the US for the next 90 days has sparked a lift-sharing war between industry-leading Uber and its local rival, Lyft.
Lyft has shot up the rankings in Apple's App Store, following significant backlash to claims that Uber continued to operate, and profit from, fares as other New York taxi drivers went on strike in opposition to the travel ban. The Californian start-up, a fierce rival to Uber, saw its iOS app peaking at the number four spot on the free apps chart on Monday (30 January) – up from 39th just two days prior.
The differing fortunes of the two San Francisco companies have been widely attributed to the social media hashtag #DeleteUber which began trending on Twitter and Facebook as news spread of Uber's controversial surge pricing-stoppage during an hour-long taxi strike at New York airports as part of a protest initiated by the city's Taxi Workers Alliance.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick later issued a statement in an attempt to assuage those criticising the seemingly opportunistic price surge-halt. While an Uber spokesperson attempted to clarify the decision to TechCrunch, explaining that the company was only attempting to alert potential customers that the increased demand would not result in higher fares and they could still get to and from JFK airport at normal prices. The damage had already been done on social media, however, with thousands sharing and promoting the #DeleteUber campaign.
Kalanick's statement followed an earlier post on 28 January that differed greatly in tone – with the original message, which was sent to all Uber employees, stating that "this ban will impact many innocent people", but shied away from admonishing the contentious executive order. In contrast, the follow-up posted a day later referred to Trump's 'Muslim ban' as "wrong and unjust" – a change of language highlighted by some on social media as public relations damage control.
Lyft, meanwhile, admonished the order from the White House in a blog post titled Defending our Values on 29 January:
"Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the US is antithetical to both Lyft's and our nation's core values," said Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer. "We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community."
Lyft also pledged to donate $1m to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the next four years, while Uber's detailed its plan to create a $3m legal defence fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services. In addition, Kalanick has suggested he will take advantage of his role in Trump's economic advisory group, which also includes SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk, to "urge the government to reinstate the right of U.S. residents to travel – whatever their country of origin – immediately."
Despite Uber's best efforts to stem the backlash, the #DeleteUber campaign, which encouraged Uber users to post screenshots of the app being removed from mobile devices, appears to have struck a chord based on Lyft's unexpected ascent. At time of writing, the Lyft app currently sits in eighth place in the iOS free app charts, with Uber in 17th place based on data from AppAnnie.
How to completely delete your Uber account
Unfortunately for many of those joining in the #DeleteUber movement, simply uninstalling the app from a smartphone isn't quite the full story, as your account will still remain active.
For those looking to completely erase their Uber account and fully commit to the boycott, all you need to do is follow the steps listed below: