Date
21 October 2018
Jason Gargac has been live-streaming his passengers in St. Louis, Missouri without their knowledge since March this year. Photo: Internet
Jason Gargac has been live-streaming his passengers in St. Louis, Missouri without their knowledge since March this year. Photo: Internet

Uber driver live-streams hundreds of passengers on social media

An American driver for ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft was found to have been live-streaming his passengers on a social media platform without their knowledge.

Jason Gargac, 32, had given some 700 rides in the St. Louis, Missouri area since March this year, and almost all of those rides were live-streamed to his video channel on Twitch, where he goes by the username “JustSmurtf”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Twitch is a living-streaming video website where users can earn income from subscribers.

Gargac’s passengers, who all didn’t know they were being live-streamed, included “children, drunk college students and unwitting public figures”, the newspaper said.

The passengers’ first names and sometimes even full names, as well as their acts and conversations inside the car, were disclosed to “an unseen online audience”.

Gargac invested around US$3,000 in equipment technology for his vehicle, which consisted of “two cameras about the size and shape of a deck of cards”, the newspaper quoted Gargac as saying.

The cameras were installed on “the windshield that face both outside and in”. His equipment also comes with a “12-button control panel” that enables him to “toggle between camera views” when he drove his car, as well as a data system which makes his live-streams remain connected.

Gargac’s channel had about 4,500 followers. About 100 subscribers paid US$5 per month to support his efforts.

He told St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had earned around US$3,500 from Twitch users, which included subscriptions, donations and tips.

A spokesman for Twitch said it would get rid of content if it received any complaints about violation of privacy.

Gargac’s Twitch channel disappeared shortly after St. Louis Post-Dispatch published his story.

Lyft, through a spokesman, said on Sunday it has dropped Gargac as a driver for its car-hailing service.

On Monday, Uber said it has “ended its relationship” with Gargac.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 24

Translation by Jonathan Chong

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal

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