Uber apologized Monday after its automated Twitter account responded to a customer with the N-word. The Twitter user had adopted the racial slur as a username, which some believe might have been a deliberate move to trick the automated system.
The customer, whose Twitter handle was @realtheeCheney, messaged Uber about an unpleasant experience, tweeting “I had an awful driver today. I want my money back!!! Please respond so we can work this out.” Uber’s support account responded in a tweet with “We’re so sorry about that, (N-word)! Please send us a DM with your phone number with additional details of your concern, so we can connect.”
According to Mashable, the Twitter user was likely trolling Uber in hopes of a bot reply. Though the Twitter user’s name did not reflect the racist term at the time of the reply, the user possibly changed its user name to activate the automatic reply from Uber, which would pick up the username to personalize its response.
“This seems all the more likely when you look at the @realTheeCheney account, which consists of mostly MAGA trolling and screenshots of other Twitter users tricking brand accounts into tweeting racist replies,” wrote Mashable’s Jack Morse. “For example, if the @realTheeCheney account had a display name with the slur, then it changed it after receiving the reply from Uber, a bot reply from @Uber_Support.”
At least one Twitter user faults Uber for “bad algorithmic/auto fill usage.”
Mashable later confirmed that the user, whose account at the username @realtheeCheney no longer exists, temporarily set their Twitter name to the slur.
Whatever led to the racial term being used, Uber apologized Monday morning and said it would change its processes to avoid it happening again.
“We apologize for this offensive tweet and are disappointed our process to prevent something like this from happening was not effective here,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement. “Our support team is taking additional steps to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.”