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Thoughts on #Ubergate

The media is up in arms over Uber because they threatened to dig up dirt on the personal lives of people in the media who don’t write nice things about them. They aren’t taking it lying down, either. They are deleting the app everyone! I repeat: THEY ARE DELETING THE APP. That’s as severe as it gets for tech journos.

Now, the real reason they are deleting the app is because intimidating the press is a shitty thing to do. That’s reason enough. Even though some media outlets do dig into the personal lives of tech executives (ahem, Valleywag), most don’t — at least proactively.

Lumped in with all the real reasons are two other reasons. One of them is privacy — which I’m going to leave alone for the sake of brevity — and sexism.

For months now — and if you’re in the tech press, you have no excuse to NOT know this — there have been plenty of stories about Uber’s highly suspect to downright crappy, sexist advertising and company culture.

And now, of course, Uber’s getting piled on with other stories of crappy things that they’ve done that the media chose to ignore until they were the ones being threatened.

All of this is just a reminder that the press can, and often is, self-serving to a tremendous fault. That the reason that Uber got away with a lot of these other stories is because they were swept under the rug for more favorable coverage. The people who actually were paying attention and had an issue with Uber’s sexism abandoned the platform months ago. People pretending like this was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Really? Don’t play that.

Believe me: I don’t feel bad for Uber executives. Nobody should, even if you feel a little bad for the drivers stuck in the mess. The media, with their pronouncements of deleting apps and retreading old, buried stories, are as much enablers as they are the victim here. Just let the record show that very few of them were unwilling to take two seconds to delete the app and another minute to find an alternative when they were being horrible competitors or sexist jerks.

It was only when members of the media were directly threatened by an Uber exec that the anti-Uber rage caught its predictable storyline. That only serves to give tech companies one lesson: do whatever else you like, but don’t rock the tech press honey pot.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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