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Uber Pushes Back Against Rape, Sexual Assault Claims

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An Uber vehicle in Manhattan on July 20, 2015. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

When customers have a bad ride with Uber, they can let the company know by filing an online complaint.

But riders aren’t just using Uber’s system to complain about surge pricing or moody drivers. Some of the complaints being logged through the company’s online complaint system include thousands of tickets with the words “rape” and “sexual assault.”

However, Uber insists that not all of those thousands of complaints are what you think.

After BuzzFeed News was shown more than 5,800 tickets in the multi-billion dollar-valued company‘s customer service system that were returned with the keyword “rape,” Uber is kicking back, responding that doesn’t mean there are thousands of rape claims in their system. Instead, Uber says it found only five “tickets that allege an actual rape occurred.”

Uber notes there are lots of other reasons the world “rape” and “sexual assault”could show up in a search. For example, Uber suggests “rape” could just be misspelled from “rate,” it could be a part of someone’s name. Or it could even be used in a non-literal way, such as if an angry customer wrote “you raped my wallet.”

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The San Francisco-based business also acknowledges that in addition to the five rape claims, another 170 sexual assault claims were logged with the ride-hailing service between 2012 and 2015. In a rebuttal to BuzzFeed posted via Medium on Sunday, Uber wrote “even one incident is too many.”

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The data release comes about as Uber faces increasing pressure about how it vets drivers, especially after an Uber driver was accused of killing six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan in February.

The ride-hailing app company does not use fingerprinting as part of its background checks, and it has come under fire for letting sex offenders and burglars drive vehicles for the company. Uber also loosened some of its background checks in the state of California earlier this year.