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Cue Captain Renault...

...and the XKCD "Umwelt" cartoon, which looks different in different browsers, different countries, etc.

A professor at Harvard University believes she’s uncovered evidence that race is sometimes used to determine which ads you see when you go online.

Based on thousands of searches, Latanya Sweeney, who runs the university’s Data Privacy Lab, concludes in a recent paper that there is “discrimination” based on race in the delivery of certain ads.

She found that Google searches using names that sounded black (Latanya) turned up strikingly different ads than when the search was done for a name that’s more typically considered white (Adam).

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/803015.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments. I prefer that you comment on Dreamwidth, but it's also OK to comment here.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
I know someone who left a project at Google that was involved with deducing demographic data from browsing habits and other online activities. It's definitely being done.

At what point pulling out demographic data and allowing advertisers to target their ads wends over into racial bias actually strikes me as a non-trivial question.
Feb. 22nd, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
It's also an interesting ethical question. People definitely advertise on TV shows because of a particular demographic. How is this different? (That's not rhetorical - I think it's a good question to ask and ponder. Like, one difference is "it's not advertisement on a TV show, or, equivalently, a web page. It's advertisement during a browsing session." Okay, so why is that different? How meaningful is it? And so forth.)

Feb. 22nd, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
Well one difference is that what you see in a browsing session is based on more information about you than "they are watching such and such a TV show."
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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