Uber, one of the leading cab-hailing services, employs hundreds and thousands of drivers, who earn their daily bread through the platform. Uber has faced its fair share of controversies, but has also gained positive press in different ways. A recent incident about an Uber driver has come to light that highlights a flaw in the platform's facial recognition algorithm.
A safety feature in Uber's app turned barricade to this driver, who has reportedly been working with the company for over 1.5 years with a 4.67-star rating for 1428 trips. In a Twitter thread by Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers chairman Shaik Salauddin, an incident of one Srikanth came to light, who was allegedly blocked by Uber after he changed his appearance. Srikanth had visited Tirupati recently, where he shaved his head, and when he returned and tried logging into Uber, the algorithm allegedly failed to recognize him.
Srikanth, who has been driving with @Uber_India for over 1.5 years now and holds a 4.67 star rating for the 1428 trips he completed, has been blocked by Uber. Srikanth shaved his head during a recent trip to Tirupati, and when he returned, 1/3 pic.twitter.com/QwNnBwscPy— Shaik Salauddin (@ShaikTgfwda) March 31, 2021
"Srikanth shaved his head during a recent trip to Tirupati, and when he returned, he found that he could not log in to his Uber partner app, which is his source of daily income. The algorithm did not identify Srikanth with his shaved head after he uploaded a routine selfie," Salauddin tweeted.
This incident happened over a month ago and Srikanth has allegedly been trying to get this issue sorted out by visiting Uber's office, but hasn't been able to.
Uber denies allegations
International Business Times reached out to Uber for a comment on the incident. The company denied that Srikanth being blocked from the partner app had nothing to do with its new appearance. The company spokesperson told us that the driver in question had violated community guidelines.
"The driver in question had visited an Uber Partner Seva Kendra when he was unable to log in and it was communicated to him that his access to the app had been removed due to repeated violations of our community guidelines, which set the highest possible safety standards on our platform. Uber's facial recognition tool is capable of detecting natural changes in a person's appearance such as long or cropped hair. In case drivers face a problem logging in due to any technical issue with the selfie verification process, they have the option to visit the nearest Uber Partner Seva Kendra for a manual review of their profile," Uber spokesperson told IBTimes in an email statement.
How does Uber verify driver photos?
Uber drivers are required to upload a selfie in the app whenever prompted before going online. This feature is to ensure the account is not being used by other people. When prompted, drivers must click a real-time photo to get access to the app and accept rides.
"All denied photos will be reviewed immediately by real people to help ensure accuracy. If your verification photo doesn't look like the person in your profile photo or you submit a photo of a photo, access to your account may be suspended indefinitely," according to Uber.
Uber also mentions clearly that profile photo can only be uploaded once and the same will be used to verify against future selfies. But if the driver changes his appearance, a request form needs to be filled out to update the new photo.