The Didi Chuxing application is displayed on a smartphone screen (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chinese Users Pledge to Delete Didi App After Death of Two Passengers

(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Chinese users have pledged to delete the country’s most popular ride-hailing app after another woman was allegedly murdered while using its Hitch car pooling service.

Didi Chuxing came under fire from netizens, state media and regulators alike over the weekend after the customer was allegedly killed despite an earlier passenger complaining about the driver’s behavior. In two statements on the matter, the Beijing-based startup has deeply apologized, pledged to overhaul its services and suspended two senior executives at the company.

But the latest death - the second in three months after a flight attendant was allegedly murdered in May - has spawned fury among China’s web users, with many taking to social media and saying they will delete the app. It comes at a critical time for the country’s most valuable startup as it faces rising competition from fellow tech giants and attempts to become a global ride-hailing giant capable of taking on Uber on the world stage.

Chinese actress Wang Xiaochen posted screenshots of her phone to her 9 million followers on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, as she deleted the Didi app with a caption saying "goodbye!" The viral update received 285,000 ‘likes’ and generated over 40,000 comments - many of which were followers showing proof they’d done the same.

Others took their complaints about Didi’s safety directly to the startup’s own Weibo account, where they commented on the company’s statements. One popular reply that garnered 63,000 ‘likes’ said that while they couldn’t stop Didi from making a fortune, they could uninstall the app.

The push to get rid of Didi has echoes of the #DeleteUber campaign that hit Uber Technologies Inc. in 2017 amid a series of scandals and mis-steps at the U.S. ride-hailing giant.

Didi declined to comment beyond its earlier statements.

The wave of high-profile deletions are unlikely to remove Didi from the top of China’s ride-hailing market. Didi said it has more than 30 million daily active users while data from research firm QuestMobile estimates that its nearest rival Dida Chuxing has 982,000.

The world’s fourth-most valuable tech startup Meituan Dianping, which is preparing to list in Hong Kong later this year, is also ramping up its campaign to provide ride-hailing services in key markets such as Shanghai.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: David Ramli in Beijing at dramli1@bloomberg.net

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Editorial Board