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Chinese Netizens Discuss Uber New Rider Rules: “Would You Still Take Uber?”

International car service company Uber is currently testing new rules that could make ordering a Uber cab more expensive for riders. On Chinese social media, netizens dispute the new rules. As Uber China (优步) is already suffering huge competition from homegrown giant Didi Kuaidi (滴滴快的), implementing their tryout rules in the PRC might further harm their China expansion

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International car service company Uber is currently testing new rules that could make ordering a Uber cab more expensive for riders. On Chinese social media, netizens dispute the new rules. As Uber China is already suffering huge competition from homegrown giant Didi Kuaidi, implementing their tryout rules in the PRC might further harm Uber’s China expansion.

As Uber (优步) is trying out new rules that will charge riders additional fees for every minute they are making their driver wait, the ‘private driver’ app became a trending topic on Sina Weibo on April 29 under the hashtag: “Would you still take Uber?” (#你还会用Uber打车吗#).

The American ride-hailing app Uber has not been doing too well in China, where it is now losing more than $1 billion a year. Uber China has fierce competition from homegrown Uber-equivalent Didi Kuaidi (滴滴快的), which is now doing a staggering 10 million rides a day in China. In comparison: according to its numbers from fall 2015, Uber is doing 2 million rides a day worldwide.

Both Didi and Uber are mobile platform taxi-calling applications that have made ordering a private cab in China’s cities easy and affordable. Uber entered the Chinese market in 2013. Chinese rivals Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache (嘀嘀打车-快的打车) were both founded in 2012 and then merged in 2015, creating one of the world’s largest smartphone-based transport services.

Uber has tested its new rider rules in New York City, New Jersey, Dallas and Phoenix. According to Wall Street Journal, the recent test could result in a permanent change to the rules.

These are the potential new rules as discussed on Weibo:

•  The customer will be charged extra costs if the driver has to wait more than two minutes after arriving at pick-up point;
•  The customer will be charged for every minute the driver has to wait after 2 minutes;
•  After five minutes of waiting, it will be regarded a ‘no-show’ and the customer will be charged $10;
•  If a customer orders am Uber cab and then decides to cancel, they have to do so within 2 minutes after ordering- otherwise they will be charged a cancellation fee (±5-10$).

According to many Weibo netizens, Uber first needs to up its service in China before changing its rules. As one netizen says: “1. Uber has too many drivers who don’t know directions. 2. They make me wait for over ten minutes – even if there’s no traffic jam and they’re in the neighborhood – and when I finally have to cancel my ride, they will still charge me cancellation fees. 3. I’ve also had a driver who told me he couldn’t come but still sent me a bill. I called him and he said he had other people in his car. So I canceled and was still charged for it. 4. I once spent over 100 RMB [±15$] on an Uber, although the ride would’ve only cost me around 70-80 RMB (±11.5$) with a regular cab.”

Netizens also worry that drivers will take advantage of the new rules by purposely waiting for a rider: “So what if a driver arrives and does not give you a call to let you know?”

Some also think it is unfair to charge riders for making their driver wait, as the drivers also often make riders wait: “If they let me wait for 20 minutes, do I get any money?”

The main issue for most Weibo users who are Uber riders seems to be the company’s long waiting times. As one netizen says: “It’s not like I don’t want to ride Uber anymore, but every day it is the same: my ride is just 15 minutes, and they make me wait 12 minutes. You just need more drivers.”

It is not known when and if Uber will implement their new rules in China. If they do, they will certainly not be welcomed by China’s netizens. As one netizen concludes: “These automatic fee deductions are very unreasonable. Just yesterday, the driver said he had arrived at the appointed address but he wasn’t there. I waited for half an hour and still I was the one who was charged with a cancellation fee. How is this reasonable?! Uber has to think more about its passengers. Do you still want to grow in China, or not?”

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Digital

Uh Oh, IP: Chinese Social Media Platforms Now Display Users’ Geolocation

From Weibo to Zhihu, Chinese social media platforms now display netizens’ geolocation to ensure a ‘healthy online environment.’

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Over the past few days, Chinese social media platforms have started to introduce a new function that displays the IP location of online commenters.

Weibo was the first platform to introduce the function on Thursday – the topic also became top trending on April 28 – and social media platforms Douyin, Toutiao, Xiaohongshu and others followed later. Zhihu announced the measure on April 30 (#知乎宣布全面上线显示用户IP属地#).

Weibo has experimented with the function since March 22 of this year before completely rolling it out on April 28. Whenever users post a reply or comment to a thread, their Internet Protocol (IP) address location will be displayed underneath their comment, right next to the post date and time information. The location will also be displayed on the personal account page of Weibo users.

According to Sina Weibo, the function was introduced to ensure a “healthy and orderly discussion atmosphere” on the platform and to reduce the spread of fake news and invidious rumors by people pretending to be part of an issue or city that they are actually not part of. To keep online discussions “authentic and transparent,” social media users’ specific region, city, province, or country will show up below their names. The function can not be turned off by users.

‘Refuting rumors’ is a priority for Weibo management and has only become more relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in China and the recent Shanghai outbreak.

On Saturday, the hashtag “What Does It Mean That Platforms Are Unrolling the IP Function?” (#平台开放IP属地功能意味着什么#) was trending on Weibo, attracting over 170 million views.

The new measure has attracted mixed reactions on Chinese social media, where some users think it is useful that you can now discern users located abroad from those who are based in China, making it easier to draw conclusions on what is really going on in society (you can now spot trends that are particularly taking place within one region) and what is merely taking place in cyberspace.

But there are many users who think the new function is just another layer of control and does not really help to combat fake news or malicious rumors, since the IP location could actually still be changed.

Although the entire idea of displaying the IP location is to minimize the gap between cyberspace and reality based on one’s location, the location is merely the geographic location of the internet from the connected device and does not always correspond with the actual location of the social media user.

Once a person is connected to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), for example, internet traffic is sent through a server in another location, and the IP address will be replaced by the IP address of the VPN server in a different location from people’s actual address.

Some Weibo account are also not run by the persons themselves but by a social media or marketing company.

In this way, Bill Gates unexpectedly turned out to be located in Henan province, and Lionel Messi’s location showed up as Shanghai.

Others think that the new rule will only lead to more online polarization and self-censorship: “Who made this unsettling decision?! From now on, Chinese nationals who are studying or living abroad will be extra extra careful in what they write, otherwise, they’ll be labeled as ‘foreign forces.'”

Some people joked about the new function revealing their location, writing: “It made me so embarrassed. I’m pretending to be studying in the UK, while I’m actually in the mountains feeding the pigs.” Others were also surprised that their IP location was completely different from the place where they are actually living: “Weibo, what are you doing? I’ve never even been to Jilin,” one commenter wrote.

According to an online poll held by Fengmian News, 56% of the participants (nearly 300,000 at time of writing) said they supported the new function. 21% did not like the function, 17% said they did not care, and 6% were just curious to see their own IP location and if it matches their actual location.

“I’m gonna go and delete my more extreme comments,” one person wrote: “I don’t wanna give my hometown a bad reputation.”

Global Times commentator Hu Xijin (胡锡进) also gave his views on the new measure, saying that people’s viewpoints and values will always be more important than where they come from, and that all friends of China matter, no matter where they are based. However, he argued, it is also good to know where those who openly express anti-Chinese sentiments come from, exposing those ‘evil foreign force’ who are trying to disrupt social cohesion within the country.

Noteworthy enough, Hu Xijin’s own IP location was not displayed on his Weibo account, as some celebrities seem to have been excluded from this measure or can decide themselves whether or not they would like to display their IP location or not.

One Weibo user wrote: “Twitter can follow its own regulations in banning Trump, while Weibo can transcend its own regulations and not show Hu Xijin’s IP location.”

For recent articles Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

‘Voices of April’: The Day After

“The best way to make videos go viral is by censoring them.”

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On April 23, a day after the video ‘Voices of April’ briefly took over social media before it was censored, the trending topic of the day is a hashtag related to new Covid cases reported in Shanghai.

Shanghai reported higher Covid-19 cases and deaths on Friday than the five days prior, which showed a daily decline in new cases. Shanghai reported a total of 23,370 new cases (including 20,634 asymptomatic ones), the municipal health commission said Saturday. A related hashtag by Xinhua News received over 910 million views on Weibo on Saturday (#上海新增本土确诊2736例无症状20634例#).

Although the hashtag was initiated by state media to inform about the Shanghai Covid situation, netizens started using it to criticize Shanghai’s handling of the crisis, with more commenters questioning China’s zero-Covid strategy. Similarly, other state media-initiated hashtag places also became online spaces where Weibo users vented their frustrations earlier this month.

Besides the ongoing online criticism and vocal disagreement with China’s Covid handling and policies, there are also many who express shock at the recent crackdown of any form of protest or criticism regarding the situation in Shanghai.

“‘Voices of April’ has been shutdown all over the internet, I’m simply dumbfounded,” one person said about the popular video that contained real recordings of events that happened during the city’s lockdown.

“If you still can find the video anywhere, forward it,” another person writes.

Besides Voices of April (四月之声), there have also been other videos over the past week that are meant to expose the mishandling of the Covid situation in Shanghai.

One of them is titled Farewell, Language (再见语言), another one is Shanghai Late Spring (上海晚春).

Farewell, Language (再见语言) is a 42-second sound art video by artist Yang Xiao (杨潇), who used over 600 commonly used propaganda phrases from Chinese official channels and randomly broadcasted the audio in the community where he lives.

The anti-epidemic workers just continue their work and do not seem to notice anything out of the ordinary at all. The video shows how this kind of language has been so normalized that for most, it has just become background noise in their everyday life – without even noticing nor critically assessing its meaning or logic anymore.

The Shanghai Late Spring (上海晚春) video is a compilation of video footage from the Shanghai lockdown, showing people struggling to get food, violent altercations between anti-epidemic workers and residents, people living in deplorable conditions in quarantine centers, and more (link to video).

The video uses the song Cheer Up London by Slaves, its chorus being:

You’re dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead, dead, already-ready
Dead, already, dead
.”

One Weibo commenter responded to the video in English, using a text from Les Misérables: “Do you hear the people sing / Singing the song of angry men / It is the music of a people / Who will not be slaves again!” The phrase “do you hear the people sing” was also used by other social media users to address the situation in Shanghai and the censorship of related topics.

“The best way to make videos go viral is by censoring them,” one commenter replied.

Read our previous article about ‘Voices of April’ here.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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