According to a Weibo announcement on October 10, Didi will test out a new blacklist feature on its ride-hailing app today (October 18). It’s part of an update that also includes improvements to existing options like the “one-click” panic button, emergency contacts, and warning against underage passengers. But unlike previous safety upgrades, which have mainly focused on passenger safety, the blacklist feature can also be accessed by drivers.
The option will be accessible from multiple pages within the app, from trip cancellation to complaint submission to reviews. After a passenger or driver adds someone to the blacklist, Didi will prevent them from being paired up again for 12 months.
As a staff member of Didi’s public safety department told China National Radio, being added to a blacklist can also affect other aspects of one’s in-app experience. Drivers who are featured on multiple passenger blacklists and are also the subject of complaints, for example, may be punished by the company. Meanwhile, passengers who are added to more than one list will have access to fewer drivers’ services in the future.
In its current stage of development, a blacklist status cannot be reversed.
As of writing time, a Didi PR representative had not yet responded to TechNode’s request for further information. The concept of a blacklist and its negative aftereffects, however, may sound similar to social credit systems that have sprung up across China in recent years.
In fact, the vice-director of the Research Center on Communications Law at China University of Politics and Law, Zhu Wei, told CNR that the “blacklist feature is an important component of creating a credit system” (our translation) among drivers and passengers. According to Zhu, both parties will be incentivized to avoid negative behaviors.
Fudan University’s Professor Zheng Lei, on the other hand, said that the measure has limits. While it punishes wrongdoers, the blacklist may fail to prevent crimes before they happen.
The feature is only the latest addition in a long line of safety features churned out by Didi after the murders of two passengers earlier this year. Past updates have included more rigorous background checks and a mandatory daily safety knowledge test for drivers, as well as an audio recording option for Express and Premier trips.
More recently, on October 16 Didi announced that it was recruiting 1,000 Party members to join the ranks of its customer service team. According to the company, it’s part of an effort to reduce response time for emergency situations, as well as improve the reporting of complaints to police.