The daily business briefing: May 30, 2019

Harold Maass
The Uber logo on the NYSE
Spencer Platt/Getty Images


Uber to ban riders with low ratings

Uber plans to start banning riders who receive low ratings from drivers, the ride-hailing company said in a blog post Wednesday. Only riders with ratings that are significantly below average will be kicked out. "Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability. Drivers have long been expected to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city," Kate Parker, Uber's head of safety brand and initiatives, wrote. "While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it's the right thing to do." The company, which has long let riders rate drivers, said it would launch the policy in the U.S. and Canada, giving riders a screen on the Uber app advising them on expectations such as being polite and not leaving trash in the vehicle. Riders will get warnings before being banned. [CNN, NPR]


Pelosi slams Facebook for not removing doctored videos

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday harshly criticized Facebook for refusing to remove a video altered to make her appear to be slurring her words. Pelosi said the social network's decision to leave up the clip showed that it knowingly let false information spread to its users, including during the 2016 presidential election when Russian operatives used Facebook and other social media to post fake news to support President Trump's campaign, and hurt his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. "We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians," Pelosi told the San Francisco public radio station KQED. "I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false." [The New York Times]


Disney CEO says it will be hard to film in Georgia if abortion ban imposed

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger told Reuters on Wednesday that it would be "very difficult" for the entertainment giant to continue filming in Georgia if the state's highly restrictive new abortion law takes effect. "I think many people who work for us will not want to work there," Iger said. Disney filmed such blockbusters as Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame in Georgia. Losing Disney would amount to a major setback for Georgia's film and TV industry. Georgia's ban on abortions after doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat, which occurs before many women know they are pregnant, was passed May 7 and will take effect Jan. 1 if it survives court challenges. Netflix on Tuesday said it would stop filming in Georgia if the ban takes effect. [Reuters]


U.S. stock futures rise despite ongoing trade fears

U.S. stock index futures rose early Thursday despite escalating concerns over the U.S.-China trade war that dragged down markets on Wednesday. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by about 0.3 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up by about 0.4 percent. The Dow dropped by 0.9 percent on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 fell by 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.8 percent. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui stepped up his country's rhetoric against President Trump's threat to continue hiking tariffs on Chinese imports, saying that provoking a trade war was "naked economic terrorism." Beijing this week threatened to expand its retaliation to include a ban on exports of rare earth minerals. "Don't say we didn't warn you," Chinese state media said. [CNBC, CNN]


Trump Energy Department calls natural gas 'freedom gas'

The Department of Energy on Wednesday called natural gas "freedom gas" and "molecules of U.S. freedom" in a press release. The terms appeared in an announcement of the Trump administration's approval of more liquefied gas exports from a Texas facility. "Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world," Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes was quoted as saying in the statement. The wording by the Trump administration, which has backed fossil fuels, was mocked online. "This has to be a joke," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted. "Freedom gas? Freedom is generally good, but freedom from glaciers, freedom from clean air, freedom from healthy forests that aren't on fire, and freedom from the world we know and cherish is not what we seek." [MarketWatch]