Uber mobilizes customers to channel its message

As Uber grows in number and popularity, regulators face a new lobbying group: app users who love Uber. An app company itself, Uber has proved adept at energizing its customers through their personal electronic devices, prompting them to channel Uber’s message to political decision makers by the thousands.

Uber is not shy about marshaling those constituencies to lobby public officials who have threatened moves that would hurt Uber’s business.

Here’s a rundown of the digital protest campaigns Uber has set in motion:

July 2015

Uber takes a swipe at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio by adding a “De Blasio’s Uber” feature to its app. The app shows long wait times or no Uber rides. Customers are redirected to a petition opposing a cap proposed by de Blasio on the total number of Uber drivers in the city.


April 2015

Uber emails customers across California urging them to sign a petition against a bill requiring random drug testing and fingerprint checks for drivers. When electronically signed, the petition automatically sends pre-written email to customers’ local Assembly members.

February 2015

After Virginia allows services like Uber to operate there, the company posts on its website the Twitter handles of key legislators who supported the bill, telling customers to send them a special thank-you.

August 2014

Uber carpet-bombs residents in Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s district with mailers, slamming her as “anti-tech, anti-consumer choice” and “pro-special interest.” Bonilla sponsored a bill to require Uber-like companies to carry more comprehensive liability insurance.

August 2014

Uber blasts California customers with email urging them to oppose an insurance bill it said would “kill ridesharing in the Golden State.” The email, with phone numbers for every state senator, linked to a petition constituents could sign in opposition.

June 2014

Uber posts on its website the emails, phone numbers and Twitter handles of every California state senator, urging customers to oppose bills on insurance and driver background checks.

Twitter: @traceylien

See the most-read stories this hour >>