Selfies required: Uber might make you prove that you’re masked up on your next ride

Sep 2, 2020

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The next time you leave the house and hop in an Uber, run through your mental checklist: Front door locked? Check. Got your mask, phone and wallet? Check. Selfie? Check.

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GIF courtesy of Uber
GIF courtesy of Uber

As part of the push to maintain public safety, ride-hailing companies began requiring drivers and riders to cover their faces in May. And as part of that policy, more than 3.5 million drivers and delivery people have completed 100 million mask verifications to date, according to Uber.

Now, Uber is taking measures one step further to bring riders on board as well. If a driver reports that a passenger is not wearing a mask, the rider will be required to prove that they are wearing one by taking and uploading a selfie within the Uber app.

“We firmly believe that accountability is a two-way street”, the company announced in a press release Tuesday, 1 September. “If a driver reports to us that a rider wasn’t wearing a mask, the rider will be required to take a selfie with their face covered before they’re able to take another trip with Uber”.

The selfie feature has been active in the driver’s version of the Uber app since the mandate was first required in May. Delivery people working for Uber Eats are also required to adhere to the same policy by uploading a selfie showing their mouth and nose covered by a face covering.

“We require all Uber users to wear a mask when driving, riding or delivering”, Sachin Kansal, Uber’s Global Head of Safety and Driver Product, told TPG. “We believe [rider mask verification] will add another layer of safety and hope this new feature empowers drivers”.

The same verification technology will be rolled out to passengers in the U.S. and Canada by the end of September, then deployed in other countries including Latin America. As with the driver mask verification tool, this technology detects the mask as an object in the photo and does not process biometric information, Uber said.

As always, riders and drivers can cancel a trip without penalty if the other party isn’t wearing a mask. “As more and more riders and drivers take their ‘second first trip’, we hope this increased accountability provides more peace of mind”, Uber said in the press release.

The company is encouraging riders and drivers to follow basic hygiene protocols for COVID prevention as well, including:

Wash: Wash or sanitize your hands before you ride
Wear: Wear a face cover or mask
Air: Sit in the back seat and roll down your window for airflow

Since March, the company says it has sourced nearly 30 million masks and face covers, and distributed masks to 1.4 million drivers and delivery people worldwide, free of charge. “We will continue to provide these critical supplies to drivers and delivery people at no charge for at least the remainder of 2020”, Uber said.

Featured photo by Anders Dahl Tollestrup/Shutterstock.

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