A Lyft driver claims the app permanently deactivated his account after a passenger complained that he was listening to News/Talk 1130 WISN during her ride. Ryan Alexander, who had been a Lyft driver for years, tells "The Dan O'Donnell Show" that a Lyft representative told him during a phone call Saturday that his account was suspended because he had been listening to "racist talk radio programming," a violation of the app's terms of service.
Alexander says he was listening to former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke fill in for Mark Belling during the "Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show" Thursday evening when a passenger took exception to the discussion Clarke was having about Black Lives Matter and abortion rates in the African-American community.
"She called Clarke trash, slammed the door to my car when she got out, and specifically referenced abortion which Clarke did talk about briefly while she was in the car," Alexander says.
During the portion of the program that the passenger heard, Clarke, who is Black, expressed the opinion that the Black Lives Matter organization did not truly care about Black lives because it was not upset about the rate of abortions among Black mothers.
"If Black lives mattered, if this Marxist movement truly cared about Black life, they would be every single day protesting in front of abortion clinics all across America that kill more Black babies than any other demographic," Clarke said. "That is a fact. In 2014 in New York City, more Black babies were aborted than were born for heaven's sakes, so don't tell me that Black lives matter. When 83 percent of the homicide victims are Black and 83 percent of the perpetrators are Black, don't tell me that Black lives matter because they didn't get the memo apparently."
After his passenger stormed out of his car, Alexander says he continued driving for Lyft until Friday evening, when he discovered that his account had been suspended.
"I attempted to contact Lyft for more information but with simply told I would have to wait for someone to get back to me," Alexander explains. "This happened Saturday morning when I got a call from a Lyft employee named Sebastian who told me they had gotten a complaint that I was listening to racist talk radio. The complaint specifically cited the host had mentioned abortion rates in the Black community, and that African-American communities were the problem in the country."
Alexander says he told the Lyft representative that this was not true and that nothing Clarke said was racist in nature.
"Maybe two minutes into the conversation, I was given the final decision that my account would be permanently deactivated," Alexander adds. "As I tried to get clarification on why, it quickly became obvious that that decision had been made prior to talking to me and that the phone call was simply a formality."
Lyft has not yet responded to a request for comment on Alexander's deactivation.
"Safety is our top priority here," Lyft said in an email to him its decision, "and we take these matters seriously. In accordance with our Terms of Service, your account will stay deactivated and you won't be able to re-apply with a new account."
Lyft's Terms of Service does not appear to dictate what radio programming is allowed in driver's vehicles. Alexander claims that he has faced a complaint about listening to talk radio before, but he is unsure of precisely what he might have been listening to.
"This is over the course of nearly 11,000 trips," he says, "and I was told that two complaints was enough to justify a permanent ban. The prior complaint was too vague for me to know exactly what it was in reference to, but since I primarily listen to WISN while driving I'm confident it was regarding one of the hosts there."