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Getaround adding Facebook controls

The car-sharing service seems to be taking a lesson from the recent AirBnB fraud, and will add controls to let members restrict rentals to their social circle.


The so-called AirBnB of car sharing seems to be taking a lesson from the recent apartment rental debacle and will add new security controls. To make people feel more comfortable handing over the keys to what's probably their second most prized possession, Getaround plans to add a feature that will let car owners restrict vehicle rentals to Facebook friends and friends of friends.

On information Q&A site Quora, a user asked if Getaround members could set up their account to rent only to Facebook friends. Avery Lewis, head of Product at Getaround, responded on the site that the company is "working to add that functionality soon."

Like AirBnB, members must have a Facebook account, and they can request to rent any vehicle on Getaround's site. But thanks to one well-publicized fraud on AirBnB and being called out for security limitations, there are probably a lot sharing proponents that are grappling with trust issues right now, and are thinking twice about the merits of renting to a complete stranger. Facebook controls will probably go a long way to improving trust, but Lewis reminded readers that at least on Getaround, you can see who is requesting to rent your vehicle, and you have the ability to approve or deny rentals on a case-by-case basis. So if you don't know the renter personally--or their profile seems inauthentic--you can reject the rental request. In that sense, you already can restrict rentals to your immediate social network.

But that kind of hit-or-miss approval process could hamper member growth. If someone wants to rent a vehicle with short notice, it is kind of a gamble using Getaround--you may not get approved in time to get where you need to go. In those instances, it might be faster and more reassuring to reserve with competitor Zipcar.

I e-mailed Lewis asking if with the new Facebook controls, there could be an immediate approval process that removes the approval wait time for trusted renters (basically, your friends or friends of friends), but haven't heard back from him as of this writing. I will update the post if I do.