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How does Lyft prohibit drivers?

(Washington Post Illustration / iStock)

The company has introduced a new standardized protocol to determine whether to prohibit drivers that may pose a safety threat to passengers. Lifting also reduces the roles of the trained specialists who are hired to make the judgment call if they are to start them up.

Drivers that were previously disabled and request to have their cases processed could be reinstated based on new standards, according to internal documents and interviews with current and former employees familiar with the new system, as it reduced the responsibilities of those who disabled many of accounts.

That's one of several changes Lyft has made in its security processes since it was published earlier this year. [19659008] Some current and former employees say that the changes pose a security risk because they introduce a black and white decision structure for situations that may require human judgment. Critics claim it is similar to cost-cutting measures taken in other companies when they streamline operations and could allow Lyft to increase its share of drivers amid a heated market share battle with rival Uber.

Lyft says that the new structure is aimed at removing distortions from important security decisions and establishing a clear policy for unacceptable behavior – and not for cost cutting. Events can be considered on a case-by-case basis. And there have been no fewer driver disables on average, Lyft spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement.

The giant giant is facing increasing control over passenger safety due to allegations that it is not properly treating women's sexual harassment reports. The Washington Post reported in August the concerns of women who reported cases of sexual harassment and other types of abuse by Lyft drivers, after which they said the company failed to take enough action. And more than a dozen women are suing Lyft in San Francisco, claiming that they were raped or sexually assaulted and that Lyft allowed "known sexual predators" to go on trips and concealed sexual abuse complaints in several places.

The company has made a number of changes to the platform in the midst of its investigation, adding new security features such as continuous background checks and a feature that automatically detects when a ride leaves the field, even though it said these features had been in the works for a long time.

Lyft introduced its new security processes in June. Security team members now follow a set of standard guidelines to determine whether a driver has violated a law to immediately deactivate, according to the documents and staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Former lower-level team members said they had the ability to identify potentially dangerous behavior from drivers when cyclists reported being unsafe and pre-started them for good. They had the flexibility to prohibit drivers from a pattern of behavior that demonstrates a lack of fitness, for example by repeatedly asking customers for details of the trip or asking personal questions, such as whether they live at the drop off destination or are single.

Now the lower-level team must follow rigid guidelines that can lead to drivers getting online sooner after a more serious incident, and recommendations to go through a serious case are approved by a new team that makes the final decision based on these the criteria, say employees. These specialists, called Safety Policy and Community Compliance, make the decision based on whether disabling a driver matches the standards established in the company's new "decision matrix." Details of the specific criteria were not available. Lyft said that behavioral patterns are addressed in the guidelines.

Lyft has not informed drivers that they can request a review. But in documents obtained by The Post, the company tells employees that if a driver or rider had been permanently banned, "the decision could be reassessed by SPCC team members."

Lyft is already incentivized to maintain as many drivers as it can with rival Uber, employees said. The more drivers who have access to the platform, the shorter the waiting time and price, according to the submission of the stock market and other public guidance from Lyft.

Lift's LaManna said in a statement that the company can still make decisions to disable drivers on a case-by-case basis, led by the recently standardized system.

"This team is following a rigorous process to determine when drivers should be disabled from Lyft, and represents a further action toward our goal of making Lyft the safest mode of transport for all," LaManna said. The process aims to cut down the past differences in how specialists decided to deactivate, as well as eliminate the need for critical security decisions to rest in the hands of individuals.

Academic and legal experts say standardizing how removing drivers at Lyft could protect the company from claims that the processes are unscientific or unfair. The current and former employees said there was sometimes a variation between how many drivers one specialist would disable on a weekly basis compared to another. The new system, which involves a computer-controlled process to decide whether a case should be considered for deactivation, aims to create consistency.

"Removing human nuance around something as sensitive as drivers being blocked or excluded … is an effort to reduce costs and abdicate responsibility," said Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University's Stern School of Business who has focused on technology industry.

Lifting's changes come as the company's valuation has been cut in half since it went public at the end of March and last reported a quarterly loss of $ 644 million. The company is expected to report earnings later Wednesday.

The internal documents seen by The Post described the security team changes as an extension of a model introduced earlier this year to offer a "best experience at low cost," a new company across the country.

Lyft's LaManna said it invests more resources and talent in security each year. "The changes we made earlier this year were steps to improve platform security, and any proposal to the contrary is uninformed and untrue," she added in a statement. "They weren't supposed to – nor have they – cut costs for the company."

Mary Winfield, Deputy and Security Manager, will leave the company, November 8, the company confirmed. She announced the decision internally last week, saying it was a personal choice and that she had no immediate plans. The reason for her departure and her replacement was not immediately clear. Lyft refused to make her available for comment.

The Trust and Safety team, now based in Nashville, has been around since the app launched in 2012 and acts as a protection layer for riders and drivers who use the app, according to company. It runs a critical 24-hour response line where workers take reports from cyclists and drivers about safety breaches, and escalates many of them to specialists who conduct interviews and interviews, and make other efforts to establish credibility for complaints. [19659026] Its security regime functions as a triage system, where offenses are categorized by severity: from problems such as harsh braking to unwanted comments or sexual harassment to physical violence or sexual abuse, according to staff and documents. Drug and alcohol crimes as possession or an open container are considered "zero tolerance" offenses.

In extreme cases, Lyft Trust and Safety specialists banned drivers from the platform as a tool to maintain app security, even in situations where the credibility of the offense could not necessarily be verified, but several claims demonstrated a pattern of potentially dangerous behavior , said employees familiar with the process.

This changed in June. Employees received an email informing them of the new Security Policy and Community Compliance team, which was set up to review the most serious drivers complaints and determine their fate, according to an email reviewed by The Post.

The team "was created to provide an improved and more consistent experience for cases that may require the permanent deactivation of a driver," Lyft said in an internal sliding deck.

Lyft, in his internal communication, asked employees to follow a slide deck that determines factors for when the incident responses would escalate, saying that much "thought and hard work" went into the process. Members of the Trust and Security now follow the guidelines on a computer screen and raise potential deactivations for the SPCC team, whose members make a final decision.

LaManna said in the statement that the new team “ensures consistency and prevents bias by permanently banning drivers from the Serious Offenses Platform and violating the Community Guidelines. "She added that the team is following a rigorous process.

In August, Lyft sent another email to tell its dozens of union and security officials that they had been switched from clerical positions to hourly status, according to internal communications. [19659030] Now the former specialists, the recently labeled "affiliates," say that a defense team has been eroded.

LaManna said the company has invested in the team and processes, which has "raised our standards and strengthened Lyft as we strive for to keep motorists and riders safe. "

The changes" may have unforeseen consequences, "said a former executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case." At the end of the day you call a verdict, so you have to make sure you have people who can understand the process, look at the data. "

Still, the former CEO, Lyft's reasoning to launch the program could be

"You have set up a program where you basically automate some of the manual things that we did," the person said. "Maybe you weigh judging, you use a more scientific approach. It will allow you to reduce costs. You will assume the same fidelity to the program, it is very possible."

NYU's Galloway said Lyft would eventually be forced to unite with a system that deals with cases where there are "a million shades of gray."

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