Uber will freeze passengers’ fake account names and pilot face-to-face video recording

Uber is launching a suite of new security features driver-facing, including freezing fake driver account names and piloting a forward-facing video recording tool to replace a driver’s dashcam.

Safety features follow a feedback period drivers that Uber started this summer.

It looks like the drivers had a hard time with fake usernames. Uber, in its attempt to prevent discrimination based on someone’s name, has allowed riders to update their names in the app. The result is that some users have changed their names to cartoon characters or “even offensive language,” which Uber says “can lead to difficult pickups or awkward situations for drivers.”

Uber will conduct an extensive audit of rider account names and freeze all accounts with clearly fake names. Riders will need to update or validate their account names with Uber support agents for their accounts to be unblocked, the company said.

Drivers will also be able to report any false or inappropriate names in the Help section of their app.

Uber is also expanding its audio recording feature and driving front-end video recording. The ride-hail giant says in-app audio recording during rides has helped it determine the best course of action after a safety incident, and has helped riders and drivers to feel safer when using the app. Uber has driven audio recording in three US cities over the past year and will now expand to six new US cities next month, including Cincinnati, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Tucson.

The video recording trial, which will take place in Cincinnati, Louisville and New York in the United States and in Santos and João Pessoa in Brazil, will allow drivers to record videos using the front camera of their smartphone . The idea is to replace an interior-facing dash cam with a much cheaper and easier-to-install alternative, and this will allow drivers to record both video and audio on every trip, the company said.

As with the audio recording feature, no one, including the driver, can access the recording unless the driver wants to share it with Uber to find information about a safety incident, Uber said.

Uber also unveiled new road safety features on Thursday. The company said its built-in navigation system will now suggest fewer left turns, which the company says National Highway Safety Administration, lead to 22% of accidents. The navigation will also warn drivers to “watch for cross traffic” when approaching a non-stop four-way intersection.

Earnest L. Veasey