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Didi redesigns car-pooling service in China after death of female passenger

China's largest car-hailing service has redesigned its platform after being criticized for the 'socialization' feature that saw drivers inappropriately commenting on the looks of female passengers.

Chinese car-hailing platform Didi Chuxing has quietly resumed its car-pooling services at the weekend, with major functions undergoing a redesign, aimed at ensuring the safety of passengers.

The service has been halted since May 12 after a 21-year-old flight attendant reportedly died at the hands of a 26-year-old driver in China's Henan province on May 6. The flight attendant had booked a ride through Didi and was allegedly killed by the driver who was also found dead in a river by police, according to Chinese news reports.

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One modification made in the name of safety has seen the removal of the app's "socialization" feature.

Didi has been criticized for the socialization feature on its car-pooling services as passengers and drivers were allowed to tag and comment on each other.

Instead of commenting on the services, many users found that they had been tagged with phrases such as "pretty girl" on the app by the drivers.

Didi has pulled all personalized tags and profile features in its redesigned interface and drivers will no longer be able to pick up riders based on their tags.

In the new app, both drivers and passengers are only able to choose images of scenery and the like as their public-shown avatar, said a Chinese report.

Didi has also stopped accepting car-pooling orders between 10pm and 6am.

The Chinese company has also launched several additional safety measures, such as facial-recognition scanning on all drivers before they can start accepting any orders, to ensure the identity of the drivers.

On the passenger side, the app now offers "ride sharing" and "emergency buttons". Once the passenger activates the button, the system will send out text messages to their emergency contacts and start to record, which will be shared to the Didi platform in real time.

The new app has also developed a question and answer feature for passengers to improve their sense of safety, including advising them to sit in the back seat of the car and wear the safety belt at all times.

Didi boasted 450 million users and provided 7.43 billion car-hailing services in China last year, the company announced in January.

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