Celebrities #DeleteUber following company's response to immigration ban protests
Uber’s competitors got a lift from celebrities protesting the car service over the company’s response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
A #DeleteUber hashtag popped up on social media this weekend, and stars like Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and George Takei joined in. “Canceling Uber like…bye” Monáe wrote on Instagram. Hellboy star Ron Perlman said “so long” to Uber, while Henson had some choice words for the company.
#DeleteUber began on Saturday, following Friday’s signing of an executive order that barred refugees and immigrants from several Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States. Cab drivers from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance refused to pick up passengers at John F. Kennedy Airport out of solidarity with the protesters mobilized there against the immigration ban.
The Alliance further called for Uber and Lyft drivers to show their support. Uber sent out a tweet after the designated strike time informing customers that surge prices had been temporarily suspended. However, some saw the move as an attempt to capitalize on and undermine the protest, since surges bump the cost of rides when the demand is high.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Uber attempted to clear up the matter: “We’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet — it was not meant to break up any strike. We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially tonight.”
A spokesperson further emphasized to Fortune, “The decision to turn off surge pricing was made specifically to avoid profiting from increased demand during the protest. The company has previously made a similar commitment to limiting surge pricing during disasters, after being accused of taking advantage of riders in times of need.”
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who’s a member of Trump’s economic advisory team, previously released a response to the immigration ban in an email to employees.
“Our People Ops team has already reached out to the dozen or so employees who we know are affected,” he wrote, further adding that Uber is “working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table.” Kalanick also promised to raise the issue with Trump on Friday during the “first business advisory group meeting.”
Further tainting Uber’s image, the competing car service Lyft vowed to donate $1 million over the next four years to the ACLU, the organization that issued the lawsuit that prompted a federal judge to temporarily halt Trump’s executive order. This made abandoning Uber easier for celebrities like John Leguizamo, American Horror Story‘s Denis O’Hare, and Thor: Ragnarok‘s Tessa Thompson.
See more Uber boycott tweets below.