People on Tik Tok are making videos that mimic phone calls for users to play when they get into an Uber or Lyft for rideshare safety. The videos, often timed perfectly to sound as if the user is on speakerphone with their friend or a family member, are meant to help people—particularly women—feel safe in an Uber if they have to ride alone.
With a rise in kidnapping and sexual assault cases happening among Uber passengers over the last couple of years, many question whether the app is safe for riders to go alone. A report published in 2019 by the ride share company revealed that as many as 3,045 sexual assaults were reported in that year alone—and that’s only the reported cases that the company was made aware of.
Rideshare apps are historically dangerous for individuals after stories of sexual assault and kidnapping began popping up just a couple of years ago.
Public safety became a concern a couple of years ago when reports of kidnapping, sexual assault and even murder began popping up around the world in relation to ride share apps like Uber and Lyft. Ride share companies began implementing safety programs and background checks to make sure that their passengers feel comfortable using their apps in the future, but cases still pop up every so often.
As a safety measure, TikTok users have started making videos that mimic the other end of a phone call for users to play when they get into an Uber or Lyft. A search for “Uber safety” on Tik Tok garners dozens of results for fake phone calls that you can play when you get into your car. Anything from “yeah I just got your location” to “did you hear about the guy that got kidnapped in an Uber? Yeah my dad is a cop and he told me about it” can be heard in videos under the search.
Not all TikTok trends have been safe or even sanitary, but this one aims to help Uber and Lyft passengers feel safer if they have to get in a car alone with a stranger. Other users on the app have reported that the trend works, posting videos of their results while they’re in their Lyft or Uber to show what happens when they use the videos.
Despite the coronavirus shutdowns, the trend has garnered major popularity in recent months.
Some videos that mimic phone calls give instructions to the viewer on what to do or say in between the audio clips to make the fake phone calls seem more realistic. Others play out like voice messages that users can pretend they got in their messaging app.
The videos have gotten millions of views on the platform after going viral earlier this year. Though many are not taking Ubers as often during the COVID-19 shutdown, the popularity of the trend on TikTok will likely be a useful tool when people can freely move once again.