UberPool, Uber's carpooling feature, may help save riders a few bucks (and the environment) by sharing a car with others going the same way, but sitting next to a stranger can be an awkward experience.
Uber's solution? Using social media as an icebreaker. The ridesharing company published a patent (opens in new tab) today for a method of integrating platforms like Facebook or Google+ with UberPool to find mutual connections between riders, according to Business Insider UK (opens in new tab).
The patent describes datamining online profiles to find commonalities between riders sharing an UberPool, such as if they share mutual friends, hometowns, hobbies, or even an alma mater.
Uber hopes that by finding connections between carpoolers, the experience will be more enjoyable by sparking conversation around a common interest.
Cool or creepy?
Some Uber users may find solace in a little familiarity with their fellow passengers, but we imagine others may find giving a stranger that much information about themselves to be less palatable.
Privacy is especially an concern, considering the patent mentions the possibility of allowing riders to connect with each other on Facebook. Sitting next to a stranger is awkward, sure, but one potentially knowing your full name and workplace veers into 'dangerous' territory.
It should be clarified that the patent - originally filed in July of last year - has not been granted yet. Even then, a patent is no guarantee that the ridesharing company intends to implement the social feature in the foreseeable future - if at all.
Uber is no stranger to social media integration, with the app gaining the ability to summon rides through Facebook Messenger well over a year ago, and more recently added a way to let friends know you're on your way using Snapchat.