Uber to settle second lawsuit from India rape victim

Uber's determination to address its past scandals remains in effect. The ridesharing firm has agreed to settle the second lawsuit from the Indian rape victim who accused the company of improperly obtaining her medical records. While the company isn't…
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TripAdvisor draws FTC attention after deleting reviews alleging rape and wrongful death

Dozens, if not hundreds, of cautionary tales have been removed from TripAdvisor for vague reasons, and new reports reveal the company is under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission. An investigation into the deleted reviews reveals that many of them concerned assaults, rapes, or other kinds of bad behavior on the grounds of establishments. Now, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which helped expose some of the most egregious deletions, there’s a chance the FTC will investigate. A letter sent by FTC acting chairperson Maureen Ohlhausen to Senator Tammy Baldwin reads: The Commission has a strong interest in protecting consumer confidence in…

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The Next Web

Drugs, Rape, Massacres: How AI Is Exposing Children to the Worst of Humanity

A Controversial New Artist

A freakish new art form is climbing in popularity on Youtube. It’s so subversive that it has the New York Times and the London Economic both up in arms. James Bridle was so unsettled that he averred in a recent jeremiad on the subject: “I don’t want what I’m talking about here anywhere near my own site… Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.” Welcome to #Elsagate.

The scandal centers on AI-produced “children’s videos” whose content is structured according to trending searches on Youtube, often resulting in ghoulish outcomes involving the likes of Disney, DC, and Marvel characters. Bridle was particularly unnerved by a piece called “BURIED ALIVE Outdoor Playground Finger Family Song Nursery Rhymes Animation Education Learning Video.” Apparently, chatbots automatically view videos like these and post inane comments about them, artificially driving up the their popularity. The trending content is then advertised to an audience mostly composed of horrified toddlers clicking on the links by accident, adults sharing the videos out of shock, genuine fans of the surreal, and of course, other AI.

Most of the videos don’t technically violate Youtube’s Community Guidelines, but they come awfully close, incorporating scatological humor, sexualized scenarios, and occasionally even serious acts of violence and exploitation. Imagine putting The Sims on auto-play, breaking copyright to make the characters look like popular cartoons, and recording them as they act out various inappropriate scenarios according to words that are trending on Youtube. Then imagine polluting the Internet with thousands of these videos and cynically marketing them at infants, raking in cash.

According to the New York Times, “Malik Ducard, YouTube’s global head of family and learning content, said that the inappropriate videos were ‘the extreme needle in the haystack,’ (and) that ‘making the app family friendly is of the utmost importance to us.’” But actually, I want to argue in this article that far from being a rare exception to the rule, this kind of video in fact represents an entirely new genre of video-art that I want to call Totsploitation.

A Controversial New Kind of Art

The genre boasts a global audience and videos with tens of millions of views, some of them even acted out by flesh and blood fans. Unlike anything you’ve ever imagined (unless, of course, you’re one of its huge international legion of fans), Totsploitation is cheaply executed and cynically conceived, wallowing in the repetitious and grotesque. Glorified gibberish ruthlessly appropriative of children’s culture, at first glance, its primary aim seems to dupe gullible viewers into watching stultifying gobbledygook for the sake of ad revenue (though since August, Youtube has tried to limit ad revenue from certain videos containing the “inappropriate use of family-friendly characters”).

But there is more to it than that. Seen through the most uncharitable lens, the genre’s characteristic features are troubling reflections not only of warped corporate values sponsoring AI-generated brainrot on a massive scale, but also a commentary on the dark subconscious of humanity, who are driving the creation of this kind of content and clicking on links enmeshing cartoon characters in hellishly violent, misogynistic, or inappropriately sexualized scenarios. If the Internet had nightmares, this is what they would look like.

Image source: Screenshot/Super Mouse TV/ Youtube

But despite appearances, does Totsploitation actually have any educational and artistic value? What do its millions of fans see in it? How can it be controlled? Should it even be censored?

To begin with, let’s start with the question, is Totsploitation actually Art with a capital A?

Mimesis is fundamental to artistic production, and innovation in art is often fueled by the recombination of preexisting motifs in unexpected ways, lampooning the established forms. For example, in the case of Manet’s Olympia, one of the most revolutionary paintings of all time, the artist famously appropriated a classic composition by Titian portraying “Venus” and set the image in a modern bourgeoisie context, using sketchy brushwork to portray a prostitute whose nudity was considered less shocking than her full-frontal gaze. (Interestingly, Titian copied elements of his composition from a Greco-Roman statue, so the meme had a long life.)

After his work was accepted into the prestigious Parisian Salon, Manet’s painting was promptly ridiculed by the press. Journalist Antonin Proust believed that “only the precautions taken by the administration prevented the painting being punctured and torn” by angry spectators. One critic wrote that Olympia showed “inconceivable vulgarity,” and still another harangued readers with the idea that “art sunk so low does not even deserve reproach.” Manet was overwhelmed by all of this, writing to his friend the poet Baudelaire, “They are raining insults on me. Someone must be wrong.” Such was the price for infusing the clichéd pure image of Venus with the ambiance of a modern brothel, sexualizing the nudity of the “goddess.” Attacking contemporary notions of propriety was dangerous, though history would vindicate Manet for testing the limits of popular acceptability and challenging rather than coddling the pearl-clutching prudes in his audience.

For all its tawdriness, Totsploitation is in a sense grounded in the same grand tendencies in the history of innovation in the arts. By recombining motifs associated with “pure” children’s entertainment and themes connected with adult situations, the artist provokes a reaction not unlike that invited by Manet’s Olympia. The unconventional brushwork, sloppy from a neoclassical perspective, is even paralleled by the sketchy and unfinished quality of these videos. But while Manet explored the fine line separating pornography and portraiture in nude images of women branded “Venus,” the modern Totsploitation artist elicits a shocked response by dwelling on the ambiguous boundaries that distinguish different types of children’s entertainment.

On a positive note, memes from cartoons especially popular with little boys merge neutrally with those of female-centric entertainment like Frozen. More sinister, though, is the genre’s blurring of the naiveté of Nick Junior and Disney, the stylized violence and suspense of DC and Marvel, and the cynicism and explicitness of Adult Swim and softcore hentai. All of this makes Totsploitation intriguing from certain artistic perspectives but horrendous entertainment for infants. To put it in the terms of the Stone Age, this is often TV 14 or MA content masquerading as TV Y on Youtube.

Totsploitation’s closest cousin is another genre featuring mashups of stock cartoon characters, jump cuts, starling soundtracks, and disturbing hypnotic juxtapositions of kid-friendly content with adult violence: the unfortunately named Youtube Poop. It involves “absurdist remixes that ape and mock the lowest technical and aesthetic standards of remix culture to comment on remix culture itself.” Hurricoaster’s The Sky Had a Weegee is a classic example of the genre, incorporating clips from Spongebob Squarepants and the horrendous DOS version of Mario is Missing. Trajce Cvetkovski drew attention to the video when he wrote about it in 2013 because Viacom claimed a copyright infringement against it. Now, it has over 16 million views on Youtube. One of these days, Disney or Marvel might just immortalize a Totspolitation classic in the same way.

However, the similarities between Youtube Poop and Totsploitation only extend so far. The former highlights the ingenuity of human editors as they break down and mock stock narratives drawn from children’s media. The latter is driven by surreal recombinations of stock motifs by cynically minded programmers and their inhuman algorithms, constructing strange and unsettling narratives rather than deconstructing them.

Sometimes, Totsploitation videos contain almost indescribably weird and wonderful imagery, recombinations of motifs so strange that no human could have thought them up. Think of the scene from Cartoon Superheroes Swimming Race INDOOR PLAYGROUND Fun Play Area For Kids Baby Nursery Rhymes Songs from 3:41 onward. The characters dive beneath a swimming pool whose surface is covered with floating fruit. They go on to engage in an epic martial arts battle beneath the waves defying gravity as if they were flying in outer space.

Dali couldn’t have thought this shit up. Sometimes, I even have to admit that the jokes cooked up by the AI are a little funny (perhaps with a helping hand from human editors). At the 4:53 mark of Baby Cartoon Rhymes’ beloved childhood classic Frozen Elsa Spiderman Baby Lazy to School Funny Story New Episodes! Finger Family Nursery Rhymes, for example, a bikini-clad Maleficent inseminates herself with her can of magic sun-tan spray, making Elsa suspect infidelity on the part of Spiderman when she spots the heavily pregnant witch lounging possessively next to him on the beach. Another video in which the sisters from Frozen discuss the blonde one’s fever is like something out of the Red Shoe Diaries. There’s a wtf factor at play here that is right at home with the effects of other kinds of modern art.

Certain tropes like cartoon violence and the presentation of sexualized (though not pornographic) situations are acceptable according to the algorithms at play here and ramped up to the max. After the initial shock, the more you watch the videos, the more the proceedings descend into bathos and then tedium, undercutting the horrific edge of it all. I appreciate that there is inherently something deeply subversive and aesthetically meaningful about any form of art making mincemeat out of beloved corporate mascots and the copyright laws which upholds their status as sacred cows.

“These are videos produced by machines that rage against the Machine.”

These are videos produced by machines that rage against the Machine. On the uncharted frontiers of Youtube, the impossible in the world of over-produced high corporate art is made possible in the realm of cheap automated cartoons. We all know that Spiderman and Elsa could never date in real life. Copyright law would prevent it. But their romance knows no boundaries for the singularity.

Despite all of this, the fact remains that as they are currently marketed, Totsploitation videos are wreaking havoc on the internet and exploiting a vulnerable generation of children around the world in the most twisted way imaginable—crushing their dreams about their childhood idols by associating beloved characters with tawdriness and terrifying violence.  However, censorship is not the answer. Technically infeasible, it would not only set a horrendous precedent, but represent capitalist interests stifling a popular and inherently anti-corporate art form.

A Controversial New Teacher

I think that there is something inherently reckless about entrusting the education of our children to algorithms designed to maximize profit rather than deferring to human content developers and educators with the best interests of children at heart. Even totally innocent series like the Zool Babies contain harmful content because the AI is insensitive to potentially inappropriate subject matter. Usually, the videos just contain vapid repetitions of a song concerning five babies becoming a smaller and smaller group until only one baby remains.

But consider the video Five Little Babies Bathing In a Tub | Zool Babies Fun Songs | Nursery Rhymes For Babies. In one of the songs, we have, “Five little babies sitting on a wall. One slipped off and fell from the wall. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, no more baby sitting on a wall (18:12 onward). In their Halloween song, one of the babies even gives another a graphic scar (1:02). It astounds me that this crap has hundreds of millions of views on Youtube.

When adult-themed Totsploitation is thrown into the mix, matters become graver still. At first, the sinister effect is almost unnoticeable. An otherwise banal video of dancing Elsa’s by Cartoon Rhymes transforms for a few moments into a frightening battle involving dinosaurs (14:53 onward). In still another video by Cartoon Rhymes, scenes involving harmless Claymation are juxtaposed with a brutal stabbing (11:27) and gun violence (12:22). In a video produced by Animals for Kids, children dressed as superheroes inject passerby with hypodermic needles (27:27).

Image source: Screenshot/Animals for Kids/Youtube

Other videos incorporate imagery of sexual slavery. One of them rages with such misogynistic brutality that it is clear the aggression derives from male programmers and not hapless AI.[7] Incorporating images of physical abuse and rape,  “Spiderman & Elsa Kiss! Spiderman, Elsa & Anna Compilation (Superheroes)” is the product of predatory developers interested not only in lining their pockets with clickbait, but eviscerating some of the most treasured values of contemporary emancipated liberal society in the West.

Make no mistake about it. Youtube’s twofold greed is the ultimate culprit here, grounded in a desire to make money by promoting the videos on the one hand and save money by resorting to the use of robots to censor and categorize content on the other. How about hiring more living and breathing people to monitor these videos and imposing a practical rating system that accurately reflects their true maturity level? Due to the recent fervor over the issue, it seems initial steps in this direction have already been taken.

“And all of this in a generation that has defunded Public Television.”

But since Youtube has been making similar claims about monitoring the videos since August, their assurances might be taken cum grano salis. The creepiest content is often buried so deep within otherwise banal videos that much of it is sure to slip past censors.

While I cannot deny the artistic value of elements of Totsploitation, it is obviously deeply traumatizing fodder for infants and should be properly rated and categorized by human beings rather than deceptively marketed to innocent toddlers by a machine, preying on their gullibility. We are literally peddling drugs, rape, misogyny, and massacres to our children. And all of this in a generation that has defunded Public Television! Talk about a collective failure on a massive scale. The price of all this immorality will be nothing less than a generation of children with scarred imaginations. Somebody do something, quick.

The post Drugs, Rape, Massacres: How AI Is Exposing Children to the Worst of Humanity appeared first on Futurism.


Star Trek: Discovery’s latest episode makes a rare point about male rape survivors

It’s been a long time since a Star Trek television show felt like it was really going where no one had gone before — or even to relatively infrequently visited places. Although the original 1966 series dared to feature an interracial kiss, the franchise as a whole missed the boat on LGBT representation until it was already mainstream. And between Star Trek: Enterprise and the reboot films, the Trek series has spent the last decade flailing around in lackluster retreads of its own tropes.

But in the November 12th episode “Into the Forest I Go” Star Trek: Discovery explored a subject that few mainstream shows have had the guts to tackle meaningfully: the rape and sexual abuse of men. The subject is even more important amid the current…

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TripAdvisor admits deleting post warning of rape and assault

TripAdvisor is the go-to website to visit when you want to look up hotel and resort reviews. Based on what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel unearthed, though, you might want to do more digging beyond the review portal next time you travel. According to…
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A former Uber exec has filed to dismiss a case related to a rape incident in India

Emil Michael said he’s not to blame for violating the privacy of the victim of an attack by an Uber driver.

Emil Michael, the former top Uber executive who was ousted by the company’s board earlier this year, has filed a motion to have a problematic lawsuit related to a rape incident in India dismissed.

This is Michael’s first public comment on the case, which has attracted a lot of controversy, and essentially his attempt to clear his name.

Michael, as well as former CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber, have been sued by a woman who had been raped by an Uber driver and claimed the company violated her privacy, disclosed private facts and defamed her. She alleged that Uber misused a confidential medical file that was part of the case against the driver, including having internal discussions at the company about whether she was actually raped or not.

Recode wrote about this incident, although we noted that Michael was not the executive who obtained or mishandled the file or was part of the discussions about her rape. That was another executive, Eric Alexander, who worked for Michael and for Kalanick. The Recode report did note that Michael and other execs, including its top lawyer, did not act quickly to take the medical file from Alexander’s possession.

The woman previously settled a suit with the company over failing to maintain basic safety measures in 2015. The driver was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In his dismissal filing, Michael argues that the plaintiff, named as Jane Doe for confidentiality, “has not met the burden of pleading sufficient facts on the three causes of action alleged against him, for: intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts, and defamation.”

He also passes the buck quite deftly to Uber:

“If access to medical evidence was arranged and authorized by Uber’s legal department, for example, there would be no basis to charge Mr. Michael with intentional, malicious, or highly offensive conduct. If other Uber employees (or former employees) spread defamatory rumors, there would be no basis to charge Mr. Michael with making those statements. In all of those situations, there would be no viable lawsuit against Mr. Michael.”

Here is the file, so you can read it yourself:

2017 10 16 (46) Motion.pdf

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Instagram accidentally advertises itself on Facebook with rape threat photo

Instagram is the latest social media platform to have its algorithms accidentally promote hate speech and fail to filter it out. The social media platform used an offensive photo that read, “I Will Rape You” to advertise itself on Facebook, according to The Guardian.

Guardian reporter Olivia Solon recently learned that Instagram was advertising itself with a screenshot she had taken of a hateful email she had received that read, “I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy whore!” The subject line of the email was “Olivia, you fucking bitch!!!!!!!!”

Instagram reportedly turned the screenshot into an advertisement displayed to Solon’s sister on Facebook with the line, “See Olivia Solon’s photo and posts from friends on Instagram.” The…

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How being ‘coin-operated’ at Uber led to a top exec obtaining the medical records of a rape victim in India

Is this the final straw for CEO Travis Kalanick?

If you ask most competent executives what they would do if an employee brought them a potentially controversial file that was part of a criminal investigation, the answer is always the same.

Which is: You do not read it or even touch it. You order that it be given to the company’s lawyer immediately. You quiz the employee as to the provenance and consider firing that person if you suspect it was illegally obtained.

So why did it take so long for his bosses at Uber to find out why and how a top executive named Eric Alexander, the now former president of business in the Asia Pacific, managed to acquire the confidential medical records, along with a police file, concerning the case of a woman who was violently raped in India in 2014.

As Recode reported last night, Uber’s board is meeting this morning to discuss this incident and many others that call into question the management of the car-hailing company’s abilities and judgment. That discussion is likely to include whether to fire some execs and how to handle a series of missteps by CEO Travis Kalanick.

While it does not appear that he will lose his CEO job yet, a leave of absence is being contemplated, in part due to a recent personal tragedy in which his mother died in a boating accident and his father was hurt badly. In addition, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that his close confidante and SVP of business Emil Michael plans to resign as soon as Monday, ahead of a possible firing that Recode reported on last night.

Michael figures prominently in a post Recode wrote about Alexander’s actions earlier this week, including the fact that Alexander spent months carrying the documents around in his briefcase before others at the company finally demanded that he turn them over. Whether that file was destroyed or not still remains unclear and Uber declined to comment about it.

Worse still: After Alexander showed the files or described the contents to top execs, some, especially Kalanick, began declaring that the records might indicate that the circumstances around the rape did not track and positing that Uber’s Indian rival Ola might be involved in a set-up.

None of this is even remotely true (and, yes, it’s also offensive), but it can be traced to the sometimes paranoid, frequently frantic and always high-octane tone of the car-hailing startup, which is now valued at $ 70 billion. Rather than an exception, the actions of Alexander are more typical of a company in desperate need of adult supervision, despite the fact that many of its leaders are, in fact, adults.

If that sounds perplexing, so too does the circumstances around the firing of Alexander, which only took place this past week when reporters began asking about his unusual involvement in obtaining the files. Before that, despite what appears to be a questionable act which many top execs knew about, he had never been disciplined.

The reasons why are complex, according to numerous sources, including what many describe as a close relationship between Alexander and Kalanick and Michael. Also important was Alexander’s ability to strike important deals in Asia for the car-hailing company for the pair.

Michael, to whom Alexander reported directly, is effectively considered to be the No. 2 to Kalanick inside of Uber and is also one of his closer friends (“It’s a bromance” is a common refrain about the pair). For many at Uber, Michael is considered untouchable, especially since he has been at the center of its biggest deals and fundraising.

“Not many people cross Emil and live to tell the tale,” joked one Uber executive, who then quickly added, “No, really.” Another source was more harsh: “Emil is the chief sycophant officer to Travis.”

Those sympathetic to Michael note that he has only a small number of Uber employees working for him and has less power than is perceived. “It’s more a function of jealousy than anything else,” said one person who admires him. “He’s definitely guilty of being a close friend.”

Company politics are company politics, obviously, but Michael definitely engenders more negative reaction than most inside Uber.

In any case, Alexander reported directly to Michael at Uber and had done so before at voice recognition platform Tellme Networks, which was sold to Microsoft in 2007. Alexander later worked at Flipboard for former Tellme CEO Mike McCue — where Michael was also an adviser. Earlier in his career, Alexander worked at AOL and also at Netscape for the late Mike Homer.

Over the years, those who have worked with Alexander in Silicon Valley describe him as an affable, peripatetic and endlessly energetic business development exec who delivers the goods no matter the cost.

“He’s coin-operated,” said one person who has worked with Alexander, using a term often attributed to those sales- and deal-focused employees. “You put money in and he spits it back out with contracts and revenue and whatever you need.”

Said another person: “He’s a Tasmanian devil and lives out of suitcases. I don’t think he ever gets off a plane.” In fact, in Alexander’s LinkedIn profile, referring to planes, he notes his location as “Hong Kong, India, China, A380, A330, 777 and many other airports ;).”

Still another: “He loves landing whatever the bigger guy he is hustling for like Emil or Travis wants … if you need a document to find out who else someone is talking to, for example, he’s your guy.”

But there are more complex assessments of Alexander, including that he was willing to charge in whatever direction he was directed to, which made him susceptible to overreach. “Like a Jedi, if he was trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was great,” one person to whom he reported said. “But if it was Darth Vader, who knows?”

Another colleague at Uber echoed that sentiment. “Like a lot of sales guys, everything is business as usual to Eric,” said one Uber exec. “So if Emil or Travis said jump, he jumped.”

It was Michael who brought Alexander to Uber in 2014, because he was a rare breed — an American executive who was deeply comfortable operating in Asia and had widespread contacts in the key region for the company. At Uber, he worked on numerous key deals there.

Sources inside Uber said as long as Alexander was delivering deals and striking partnerships in Asia, he could almost do no wrong.

Well, he could actually, including being the senior regional executive at a gathering that Kalanick and Michael also attended at a karaoke bar in South Korea, where women wearing numbers could be hired to drink with the group and often more. The visit attracted criticism both inside and also outside the company.

But nothing was more problematic than what Alexander did in India, in the wake of a violent rape of a woman there. While Alexander helped the police with the investigation that led to the perpetrator’s arrest and in which he also testified against him, his behavior around the case became problematic after he managed to obtain a police file that contained the medical records of the victim related to the attack.

How that happened soon becomes murky. Sources close to Alexander said he got it from the Indian law firm that Uber had hired there, while others report he told tales of having information shoved under his hotel room door.

Others note that it is common practice for such records to be available in India, while others said the country’s strict privacy laws forbid it and that law firms typically do not get that much access to information until closer to trial.

The driver was ultimately sentenced to life in prison. As for Uber, the company was banned from operating in New Delhi until 2015. It was also sued in civil court by the victim and quickly settled for more than $ 3 million dollars, sources said.

The incident also led to questions about the efficiency of Uber’s background checks given the driver was awaiting trial for at least four criminal charges at the time of the assault. In addition to stalling Uber’s growth in the massive market of New Delhi, the incident was naturally a cause for distrust among potential and current consumers. Publicly, the company denounced the incident and rolled out new privacy and safety features.

Whatever the circumstances, most executives would not have held such a sensitive file in their possession, nor would their managers have allowed that immediately upon finding out about the situation.

Which is why many ask the obvious question of whether Alexander was pushed or did he jump of his own volition when he decided to obtain the records of the Indian rape victim in the first place.

His infractions didn’t end there either. Upon getting a hold of these records, according to numerous sources, Alexander spent months carrying the documents around in his briefcase. Sources familiar with Alexanders thinking said that he was “terrified that the file would fall into the wrong hands” in India, which does not explain why he held it elsewhere.

Alexander also either told or showed numerous executives at Uber the dossier. That included Kalanick and Michael, as well as top lawyer Salle Yoo, who asked Michael to order Alexander to hand over the file. But neither seemed to move with any sense of speed or urgency.

Sources sympathetic with Michael said he was busy with one of Uber’s massive financings and also a giant deal in China with rival Didi and was not told and did not realize how sensitive the files were. Others dispute that a highly-trained lawyer like Michael would have not understood the gravity of such documents.

Sources said Kalanick indicated that he did read the file, while others said Michael did not actually read it, even though he was aware of the contents. What is clear is that the information from the file was relayed to other execs at the company, many of whom were horrified that Alexander had it in his possession.

It got worse. Rather than question how he got it or why, Kalanick used the files to postulate on how the victim was attacked, including telling several people that the medical files seemed to indicate that the victim was still a virgin (while Recode has not viewed the files, sources with knowledge of the records said it appeared as if the woman was sodomized).

Kalanick also raised the prospect that perhaps Ola — Uber’s India competitor — was somehow behind the incident. This quickly became a fixation with him, and other execs like Michael did not stop him from his dark ruminations.

While sources supportive of Michael said he never believed that the rape was false or Ola was involved, he did repeat what was in the files to others. Whether it was simply to discuss the situation to fix it is not clear, but the discussions by top execs around the rape victim most definitely bothered many inside Uber.

This behavior by Kalanick is what several sources describe as “going into the conspiracy cave,” which he often did, a situation often made worse in other instances when he got “spun up” by Michael and other executives close to him.

“It was insanity to talk like this and many people told him to stop,” said one person, although it is not clear if others indulged his more problematic thoughts on the India controversy in what another person called the “squirrel nest.” (Translation: Nuts.)

Eventually, sanity prevailed when the company’s security department got control of Alexander’s copy and apparently destroyed it.

In any case, Alexander’s actions have been reported to both Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling — two independent law firms that are investigating both individual and overall workplace malpractice at Uber. This all sprung from a blog post in March by a former female engineer named Susan Fowler, who alleged pervasive sexism and sexual harassment at the company.

Alexander wasn’t fired as part of the first round of the 20 terminations that Perkins Coie recommended last week, due to the allegations. But he was out the next day after Recode called about the India files.

Sources said he was told of the firing on the phone by Yoo — without Michael’s involvement — and was given no specific reason as to why. Alexander is an at-will employee, meaning he could be fired at any time.

His departure leaves a major hole in Asia for Uber, including in India where it is facing huge losses competing with Ola. With the new revelations, the government might again take action against Uber, as it did immediately following the fallout from the rape and questions about how the driver was vetted.

Sources inside Uber said Michael has been telling colleagues that he had not read or been as involved with the file as people thought, although he has regretted some of his own judgment calls around Korea and also the mess that resulted when he suggested publicly that Uber should dig up dirt on a reporter several years ago.

Since then, he has claimed the discussion was off the record and hypothetical, but it created a major controversy for the company.

As for Kalanick, he has even more to answer for, including a messy lawsuit with Alphabet over self-driving technology that some think is even more of an issue.

“Travis has a lot to answer for,” said one person close to the board. “And he will soon.”

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Uber fires executive who obtained rape victim’s medical records

Uber's problems with corporate culture aren't over just because it fired 20 people. Both the New York Times and Recode have learned that the ridesharing company has fired Asia-Pacific president Eric Alexander (shown above) after word got out that he…
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