Didi is suspending ride-hitching service after murder of a passenger

Didi Chuxing is suspending its Hitch service (顺风车) for a week for “rectification”, the company said in a statement shared with TechNode. Didi also released new details regarding the investigation progress:

“Our investigation found out that the driver account belongs to the suspect’s father who has passed the full verification process, criminal background screening, the facial recognition before taking the first order, and other security measures. The suspect borrowed his parent’s account to take orders in violation of terms of our services.”

The company admitted fault on their part saying, “The night safety mechanism was defective. The night mode face recognition was not triggered before the driver took the order.”

In addition, before the incident, the passenger filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the driver, but the customer service failed to reach the suspect after five attempts. “Due to the imperfection of the arbitration rules of the platform, the complaint was not handled properly in subsequent days.”

Didi said it is taking a series of actions in response to the tragedy:

  1. The Hitch service will be suspended for a week nationwide.
  2. The company will thoroughly inspect the drivers to exclude any cases involving mismatch of drivers and vehicles.
  3. The company will thoroughly review and reform its operational and customer service systems.

Didi, China’s biggest ride-sharing company, publicly apologized on Thursday May 10 over the killing of a 21-year old flight attendant, apparently by her Didi Hitch driver. The company and said it was “deeply saddened by and sorry about the tragedy” and will work closely with law enforcement authority on capturing the suspect. The incident has triggered widespread safety fears and concerns in China and sparked a heated debate on China’s social media.

“I didn’t understand why Didi needed to show the photo and the voice of the person on the platform until I became a driver myself. The product manager clearly sees the Inter-City Hitch as a social media software,” one user wrote on Zhihu.

Didi Hitch app lets drivers view the detail information about the passenger, including the age, profession, profile photo, and gender of the person requesting the ride, and the number of passengers who will be riding along. Other than the profile, the driver can also see the passenger’s “review section”, which can often be spammed with inappropriate comments regarding the passenger’s body and looks.