Facebook offered ads targeted at "Jew-haters" until ProPublica asked about it


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/14/facebook-offered-ads-targeted.html


#2

GIGO; personal bias shows in coding, just as with any other creation.


#3

Disclaimer: I don’t work for Facebook and am not a member or user or whatever you call that.

If I write a completely unbiased piece of code to categorize user interests based on their posts, it will show whatever is there. So if there are “jew haters” on Facebook it will show that.

If I write a purposely censorious piece of code that reflects my biases and politics - for example, in my case, I don’t like racists and am prejudiced against them - then certain very real communities on Facebook will be censored in my code’s output. This will make the code more complex and difficult to maintain, but it will make me happier :wink: .

Thus, whenever you see something like this, it is far more likely that the code does not show the personal biases of the programmer than the converse.


#4

I guess that would be assayable by looking for other categories of prejudice and seeing whether they were buy-able as ad audiences, right?


#5

Facebook: Wait a second, are those nipples in that picture? Off with your head!
Also Facebook: Interested in studying how to burn jews? Great! May we suggest you start a Facebook Group to connect with like minded people?


#6

The problem with these situations is not that they reflect the bigotry of the individual coder. The problem is that they reflect and amplify the bigotry of the underlying society.


#7

More than that, the code reflects the Libertarian-inflected cluelessness or disdain on the part of the coders regarding politics and society. As @HMSGoose said over in the “Bro-dega” thread, the response from the founder when asked whether the name was culturally insensitive – “I’m not particularly concerned about it” – might well be emlazoned on the gates of a future independent nation-state of Silicon Valley.


#8

Well, let’s not be too hasty to apply my generalization. As @arm points out, Facebook seems to have been ready to censor some things right out of the gate.

I was merely reacting to the unlikely proposition that Facebook did this because their coders have deeply buried anti-Jewish prejudice that surfaces in their codebase. I’m not buying the idea that there’s a cadre of secret Jew-burners working at Zuckerberg’s place, you know? Something something something Hanlon’s Razor.

@wanderfound hits the nail on the head - Facebook isn’t as extreme of a hate machine as Twitter is, but it gives haters a place to find each other nonetheless, and without organizations like Propublica, Facebook won’t even notice situations like this. They’re too busy chasing the dollars to look too closely at where those dollars are being generated…


#9

Can you buy ads targeted at “nipple lovers”?


#10

43


#11

Bingo; just like the hand washing sensors in some restrooms that failed to detect darker skin tones - like I said previously, it’s unlikely that the designer intentionally meant to ignore people of color.

It’s far more probable that due to their own subconscious bias, they never even stopped to consider testing the products on anyone with dark skin before putting them on the market.


#12

Late-stage capitalism.

I don’t even mean this as a joke.


#13

Those of us who have been futurists and/or reading cyberpunk sci-fi and/or using the interwebs for the past 25+ years understand what is going on here.

Technology is advancing beyond the rate at which we are able to control its vast ramifications.

We are right now in the middle of one of the Earth’s great extinction periods. Man-made.

Our climate will be changing dramatically over the next century and beyond.

Algorithms are getting peskier and peskier.

Hackers can throw elections of major nations. And steal all of our identities, and shut down public services, and, and, and… (Many of these are backed by nation-states as a new form of electronic warfare.)

Welcome to the 21st Century, bitches. Welcome to, as Gibson called it in his latest, The Jackpot.

The rest of the 21st Century is going to be very, very intense. Increasingly so. Strap in.


#14

Oh, relax; that’s all only until the grid fails permanently; then, all bets are off, bitches.

“The world still runs on fossil fuels; how fucking stupid is that?”

~Jenner, TWD S1

#15

Obviously, only an antiSEOmite would be against targeted advertising; so clearly there is blame on both sides.


#16

Lurking in these discussions is always the notion that silencing a particular thing pollutes a hitherto passive common-carrier of free speech, but Facebook already proactively silences many things.


#17

In addition, just wait until the Chinese feel they’re better off selling consumer goods to their own people and client states. Goodbye USD as the global reserve currency.


#18

As best I can tell; most determinations of what is ‘neutral’ and what is ‘stalinist SJW social engineering plot’ have far less to do with how much active manipulation, or deployment of passive barriers, they involve; and far more to do with how well they align with the speaker’s own use case.

If Zuckerberg’s master plan happens to include the features that suit me; it’s just natural law, exactly what any rational actor would have done. If someone with a different use case advocates for features to support those; then it’s time to dig up some of the old “I’m for equal rights, not special rights!” lines.


#19

I wish they still had it, you could have a lot of fun with that demographics in your sites.


#20

If it isn’t already a thing, it’s bound to happen: someone will invariably build a social networking platform catering to racists and alt-right nazis etc. that will give them all the thrillz of Facebook, including the power to echo-chamber, recruit, organize, and become financially self-sustaining.