A safety feature in Instacart’s app warned its gig work shoppers last month to avoid a Kroger in Nashville because of an active shooter.
Instacart first announced a set of safety features in November 2021 in a blog that said the company would send a “Shopper Safety Alert” in the case of a “critical incident” or “safety incident,” but this is the first time we’ve seen the app alert a shopper to an active shooter.
A Reddit user posted a screenshot of the alert to r/InstacartShoppers, a community of gig workers who shop and deliver groceries for Instacart, who more often than not complain about the difficult working conditions and low pay at Instacart.
“Active Shooter 700ft away,” a red text bubble over a map showing a Kroger grocery store in Nashville, Tennessee reads, according to the screenshot. The user who posted the screenshot did not respond to a request for comment, but Instacart confirmed to 404 Media that the screenshot is authentic.
According to the screenshot posted to Reddit, Instacart’s app gave the shopper a safety tip, instructing them to “Run cautiously away from the attacker to the nearest safe exit” and to follow police orders with empty hands.
The screenshot of the active shooter alert was posted to the Instacart shoppers subreddit as the community is reacting to yet another Instacart policy change which they say has drastically slashed their pay. In post after post, shoppers are sharing screenshots showing payments of $13.72 to drive 10 miles and deliver 39 items to two different customers, $5.81 to drive 3.1 miles and deliver 18 items, and so on.
“New feature coming soon: Active shooter boost! Up to $2 extra for shopping in a store with an active shooter,” the top comment on the active shooter alert thread joked.
While this is the first time we’ve seen the active shooter alert feature in action, Instacart shoppers have been victims of gun violence multiple times in the past.
Last year, Instacart donated $50,000 to the GoFundMe account that was set up for the funeral costs of an Instacart shopper who was shot on the job while shopping at a Fred Meyer store in Richland, Washington. In April, a man in Florida shot at a couple’s car while they were making Instacart deliveries.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, someone in a black GMC SUV shot at another man in the Kroger parking lot, who returned fire. Both the SUV and the man fled the scene.
“It’s troubling that people would come to a parking lot and carry out their dispute,” MNPD spokesman Don Aaron told local NBC news station WSMV 4. No shots were fired inside the store, according to WSMV.
Instacart told 404 Media that it takes the safety of the shopper community seriously and that in the rare case that a critical incident happens near a store or delivery location, Instacart will alert shoppers nearby so they can avoid the area, and in some cases cancel orders so shoppers can get to safety without worrying about their orders. If a shopper’s order is canceled due to a critical incident, they will receive the full Instacart payment for the batch.
Instacart’s alerts come from “crisis monitoring” platform Samdesk, which leverages multiple feeds, including law enforcement, social media, and local news to generate automated alerts. The alerts are sent immediately to Instacart’s app, but Instacart’s own Trust and Safety team monitors events and follows up with shoppers in the area of an incident. Shoppers can also use a RapidSOS feature integrated with Instacart’s app, which connects them with 911 for immediate assistance.