The idea behind transportation companies like Uber and Lyft is to provide everyone with an easy, convenient ride. But it turns out that it's tougher for some passengers to get rides than others.
The National Bureau of Economic Research found that black passengers, particularly black men, weren't able to get rides as easily as their white counterparts.
Each company works differently, so the bias plays out differently, too. Lyft drivers can see the names and pictures of people requesting rides — and black researchers had to wait longer to be picked up. Uber doesn't show information before a ride is accepted, but drivers can cancel.
The study found that "the cancellation rate faced by travelers using an African American male name more than doubles relative to a white male sounding name."
The study tracked close to 1,500 requested rides in Boston and Seattle.
That's certainly not good, but it's actually better than traditional taxis. White researchers got the first taxi they hailed almost 60 percent of the time. The first cab stopped for black researchers less than 20 percent of the time.
Airbnb, which is like Uber and Lyft, but for lodging instead of rides, has dealt with similar accusations of racial bias. The company has updated its policies to make it more difficult for people renting out their space to discriminate.
Those companies are starting to see some of the negative aspects of their business models. If drivers and renters can do whatever they want, there's a good chance some of them will do something the company doesn't like.