Ride-sharing app Uber appears to have come out on top in its protracted battle with the city of New York and its mayor, Bill de Blasio (for now, at least). The mayor, himself an avid Uber user, sought to limit the number of drivers on the streets of NYC, allegedly to de-clutter the roadways. However, with only about 26,000 Uber drivers in the city, many on social media perceived the move to be a classic case of favored industry protectionism.
However, celebrities and social media users by the millions rallied to the side of the most valuable venture-funded startup in history.
The hashtag #UberMovesNYC has been tweeted thousands of times in support of the company.
Uber augmented this grassroots uprising with a massive campaign of its own to inform its users and fans on exactly what the mayor was trying to do, even introducing a clever “De Blasio feature” which showed users what their wait time would be if there was a cap on the number of drivers allowed in the city.
Regardless of your political leanings or personal feelings, you cannot deny the effect that social media has had, not only in our personal lives, but in business and public policy as well.
Personally, as a student of economics and a professional social media consultant, this outcome is both expected and exciting. It shows that social media has the power to not only rally its users, but to educate people on the effects of government interference in the marketplace.
It will be interesting to see if their efforts are able to pave the way for their entrance into other cities, or if politicians will fight harder than ever against the winds of change. Either way, the winner will likely be the side who takes advantage of social media, the new megaphone for democracy.