“Twisting Words to Make ‘Sharing’ Apps Seem Selfless”

"In a forthcoming study on the technology-mediated work experiences of Uber drivers, however, two researchers argue that terms like “sharing” can put a gloss on business practices that may work against the interests of the supposed sharers — that is, the drivers themselves.

Uber and Lyft, for instance, each set the prices passengers pay. But, the study notes, the Uber app is devised to require drivers to accept a ride request before knowing a passenger’s destination and being able to determine if that fare would be financially worthwhile. The study also points out that Uber asks drivers to return passengers’ iPhones and other lost items — a service that earns good will for the company — without automatically compensating drivers for their effort. Some drivers have also noted that the companies encourage them to provide bottled water, mobile phone chargers and other services to passengers at their own expense.

These practices seem inconsistent with the idea of workers as partners who have a say in the business or autonomous, self-directed entrepreneurs, the authors write." —New York Times