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Racism In Online Ad Targeting 474

Posted by Soulskill
from the perhaps-profiling-is-a-better-name dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Most of us are familiar with advertisements in online web searching, and by now we've grown accustomed to scrolling past the 'sponsored' results to get to the real responses to our query. And we know the ads are context-sensitive; for example, searching for our favorite Federation Starship will bring up ads for a similarly-named car-rental agency. But now a Harvard University professor has found a more disturbing trend in those contextual ads: racism. 'Sweeney says she has evidence that black identifying names are up to 25 per cent more likely to be served with an arrest-related ad. "There is discrimination in delivery of these ads," she concludes. Sweeney gathered this evidence by collecting over 2000 names that were suggestive of race. For example, first names such as Trevon, Lakisha and Darnell suggest the owner is black while names like Laurie, Brendan and Katie suggest the owner is white. She then entered these plus surnames into Google.com and Reuters.com and examined the ads they returned. Most names generated ads for public records. However, black-identifying names turned out to be much more likely than white-identifying names to generate ads that including the word "arrest" (60 per cent versus 48 per cent).'"
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Racism In Online Ad Targeting

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  • Racism is a cause, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:04PM (#42790017) Homepage
    not an effect. Making use of stats is not racism. Racism is denying the fact that many blacks in the US have been disadvantaged and largely as a result are more likely to commit crimes and get arrested. Pretending the numbers don't exist is horrible.
    • by dehole (1577363) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:13PM (#42790169)

      One cannot escape that in the US, there are more black inmates than white or hispanic. The reason for their incarceration may be race related (eg the popular DWB: driving while black, crime that many innocent people are charged with), but the fact remains that yes, a higher percentage of black people in the US are in US jails with respect to white people.

      Maybe we can take the time to find out why this is the case, and correct it, rather than pretend that using official stats is racist.

      • Yes!

        This is exactly what I've said over and over. Honestly, I believe we don't go looking for the problem because we are afraid of what we might find. Well high time we find out why the stats are coming out like this and find the real problem.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          This is exactly what I've said over and over. Honestly, I believe we don't go looking for the problem because we are afraid of what we might find. Well high time we find out why the stats are coming out like this and find the real problem.

          Honestly, it appears that you have already made your mind up about what we're going to find.

          When study after study shows that being dealt a bad hand leads to higher arrest and conviction rates, one thing worth trying is not dealing so many bad hands. But that's not really what you want to hear, is it?

          • by PRMan (959735) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:03PM (#42790909)
            Not to mention that most people in prison don't have father figures in their lives, which means that marriage has a strong positive effect on society. But most people don't want to hear that morals were invented by people who wanted better societies and that's why they should be followed, they want to do their own thing and screw everyone else.
            • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Monday February 04, 2013 @07:01PM (#42791629)

              Not to mention that most people in prison don't have father figures in their lives, which means that marriage has a strong positive effect on society.

              Actually it doesn't mean that at all. It *could* be true. But it *could* just be a correlation. You have to do actual statistics to figure out if there is a causal relationship.

              A shockingly high percentage of people going to the hospital die within days of their visit. Clearly hospitals are bad for your health.

              It could simply be that some other factor is causing both the criminality and the lack of fathers. In which case, simply getting married, will not fix the problem of criminality. Just like how not going to the hospital will not keep you from dying.

              Morality was not invented by people who wanted better societies. Morality is not invented by anyone. Morality in humans is the result of billions of years of evolution. We are a social species and a moral compass is advantageous to the survival of the species. It also exists in different forms in other social animals. And it existed in humans well before any of the great philosophers like Rawls or Kant. They simply added to our collective understanding of morality.

              Some people conflate morality with some kind of "universal" Christian morality, but there is no objective set of moral axioms. It was moral for Inuits to kill their first baby if it was a girl. It was moral for Chistians and Muslims to have slaves. Morality evolves. There is no reason that marriage or fathers *should* have anything to do with morality.

          • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:07PM (#42790961) Homepage Journal

            This is exactly what I've said over and over. Honestly, I believe we don't go looking for the problem because we are afraid of what we might find. Well high time we find out why the stats are coming out like this and find the real problem.

            I don't suppose you would ever accept the answer being something along the lines of "because they are committing the majority of the crimes in the US"?

            Nah..it couldn't possibly be that simple.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              I don't suppose you would ever accept the answer being something along the lines of "because they are committing the majority of the crimes in the US"?

              Nah..it couldn't possibly be that simple.

              Only superficially. A larger percentage of blacks than percentage of whites are poor, and poverty and crime go hand in hand. Have a kid grow up in a poor family with no hope of ever getting a decent education, a future, a life, where everyone he knows is a criminal destined for the grave pr prison, and guess what happ

              • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday February 04, 2013 @07:52PM (#42792167)

                Blacks were poor in the 50s but had the same rate of incarceration as whites even though they faced much greater discrimination than today: http://spiritofcontradiction.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/incarceration.jpg [spiritofcontradiction.eu]

                The difference was that in the 50s the black family was as strong as white family (as measured by the number of children raised by single parents). Since the "sexual liberation" in the 60s the black family has basically disintegrated. The number of black kids raised by single matter went up from 20s% to >70%. White kids also started from around 20% but only went up to 35%. It corresponds very nicely with the difference in incarceration rates.

                The different response to the breakup of traditional family values can be explained by the fact that white families had greater roots in those traditions that were harder to break. It is the poorest who are always most vulnerable to great social change.

                Maybe centuries old traditions of religion and family life are not based on stupid superstitions as many people educated beyond the level of their intelligence seem to think these days, but on the experience of what works and what doesn't that evolved over many centuries?

                • by Shompol (1690084)
                  Interesting theory. Never mind that the chart you linked does not support your claim: the ratio was 1 to 4 in the 50's and climbed to 1 to 7. The difference is not as dramatic as the fact that overall incarcerations increased 7-fold! US is truly turning into a factory of slaves.
        • by Frojack123 (2606639) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:02PM (#42790881)

          Or could it be that we already know what the cause is, but it is inconvenient to mention it?

          Black cops arrest black perps at least at the same rate as white cops.
          Black Judges sentence black criminals to terms that do not differ from those by White Judges.
          Citation Here. [discoverthenetworks.org]

          There is some evidence [digissance.com] that Black Officers arrest blacks at a higher rate than white officers,
          probably because they don't have to be worried about being charged with racism.

          Findings suggest that officer race has direct influence on arrest outcomes and there are substantive differences between White and Black officers in the decision to arrest. In general, White officers in our study were more likely to arrest suspects than Black officers, but Black suspects were more likely to be arrested when the decision maker was a Black officer.

          Why is it racist to use black crime statistics, but not sexist to use male crime statistics?

        • ...Honestly, I believe we don't go looking for the problem because we are afraid of what we might find.

          A need for more socialism: welfare, free education, solidarity, etc...
          I'm sure all you Americans are afraid of that :)


          Notice that poverty is one of the few problems you can solve by simply throwing more money at it.
          So the solution is quite simple and foolproof, throw money that the problem.

          I'm not saying it isn't expensive, but significantly fewer poor people is good for the economy in the long run.

      • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:45PM (#42790643)

        Maybe we can take the time to find out why this is the case, and correct it, rather than pretend that using official stats is racist.

        It's Self Correcting: For instance, I now realize the justice system is a farce, a sham, an actual injustice system in disguise -- I realized this after video footage of police having my car towed and accidentally dropping it on its side off a flat-bed trailer was disallowed by a judge in a case where I was being charged for leaving the scene of an accident: A "side-swipe" -- an event which never happened, and that I now have on my record.

        So, the correction is as follows: Don't see crime and arrest related things as "bad". They exist, and arrest related services are extremely necessary if you live in a damned police state. When "Thug Life" can be embraced by pasty white nerds such as I, then ads related to arrest statistics is fine, it's good, it's not racism, it's targeting a legitimate need of those who say, "Fuck the Police."

        What's racist is the "black identifying names" in TFA. Now that's racist. What? Because I'm a Caucasoid I can't be named a "black" name? Dark skinned folk can't be named "white" names? Fuck that. The "racism" their research discovers is due to self selecting phenomenon called: GIGO. Had they polled actual black identifying humans to discover their actual targeted advertising frequencies then their research may have had a shred of legitimacy.

        If you REALLY want real answers for "why this is the case" WRT why "a higher percentage of black people in the US are in US jails" then you need go no further than analyzing corruption (including racism) in the police forces. What's the racial distribution of the law enforcers? The law is disproportionately enforced.

        Copyright infringement is no longer a civil matter, it's been criminalized. You see? Police states eventually equalize the disproportionate felony frequency across all races: It's self correcting.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)

          What's racist is the "black identifying names" in TFA. Now that's racist. What? Because I'm a Caucasoid I can't be named a "black" name? Dark skinned folk can't be named "white" names?

          Not really, I mean it isn't racist when in fact, this is common when it comes to naming kids. Black families DO have a trend towards naming that differs greatly from Caucasian naming. Stating fact isn't racist even though it involves race.

          There is a really interesting segment on the documentary Freakonomics with regard to n

        • by pod (1103) on Monday February 04, 2013 @09:17PM (#42792803) Homepage

          "What's racist is the "black identifying names" in TFA. Now that's racist. What? Because I'm a Caucasoid I can't be named a "black" name? Dark skinned folk can't be named "white" names? Fuck that."

          Again, not racist, just numbers, statistics. A person named "Lakisha" is far far more likely to be black than white. Why are people getting angry at numbers? Is an expert or heuristic system "racist" when it determines this to be the case?

      • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday February 04, 2013 @09:14PM (#42792781) Journal

        Let's apply the "look at all the blacks in prison, it MUST be racism" logic another way:

        What % of inmates are male? 90%? 95%?

        CLEARLY, that's a result of sexism on the part of the arresting officers, judges, juries and the entire system are biased against men, because if they weren't, a majority of the prison population would be women, right?

        Sounds stupid in that context doesn't it?

        Ask yourself why.

        • by ZigiSamblak (745960) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:22AM (#42796159)
          You don't just have to look at the fact that there is a disproportionate amount of black people in jail, there are more disturbing statistics:

          - A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists.
          - Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement.
          - The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes.

          But the most interesting statistic for this debate is this:

          - The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.

          So for a black person living up in a poor community in the USA (which is likely since a much larger percentage of hispanic and black people live in poor areas) you are basically branded as a criminal from birth. And you have a one in three chance of going to prison. Black people are aware of this of course, when society already treats you as a criminal due to the way you look then what motivation do you have to work hard to become a respected citizen? Especially when you are often put at a disadvantage.

          I live in the Netherlands where the role blacks used to have ("passing the black pete" is an expression meaning passing the blame in Dutch) is now passed on to the Maroccans. I remember working in a toy store for a short time 10 years ago. One of the first things the manager told me was to keep an eye on Maroccans if I saw them enter the store. I remember thinking that I couldn't really blame them for living up to their reputation if I ever caught them stealing. Why even try to become a valued member of a society that will not accept you as an equal?

          So if you want to keep entertaining the thought that there must be something wrong with black people that makes them more criminal than other races then you should keep ignoring the fact that in most other cultures there are other minorities who get blamed for most crap and consequently have a hard time in life which stimulates more criminal behaviour. Rinse and repeat.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:13PM (#42790177) Homepage

      The problem is that it re-enforces the stereotype and actually does cause certain behaviour. If you constantly tell one group they are a bunch of criminals and just assume they are probably up to no good then you shouldn't be surprised when it turns out they are.

      The point of treating everyone equally is to make it clear that regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or whatever you have the same chance, the same opportunity to make something of yourself. Of course in reality not everyone has access to good schools or good jobs, but if you keep re-enforcing that imagine it strengthens it. We still need to push to level the playing field, despite all the progress that has been made.

      • by vlm (69642)

        The problem is that it re-enforces the stereotype and actually does cause certain behaviour. If you constantly tell one group they are a bunch of criminals and just assume they are probably up to no good then you shouldn't be surprised when it turns out they are.

        The point of treating everyone equally is to make it clear that regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or whatever you have the same chance, the same opportunity to make something of yourself. Of course in reality not everyone has access to good schools or good jobs, but if you keep re-enforcing that imagine it strengthens it. We still need to push to level the playing field, despite all the progress that has been made.

        So, the TLDR is you're saying all moms should name their kids with white names, because that apparently magically makes the kids turn out to not be criminals? Even if it has been proven to work, I'm not thinking that magical theory should be how we should live. Because obviously "twyronee" is expected to grow up to become a carjacker whereas "thurston" is expected to go to haavard and/or get stuck on deserted tropical island along with the professor and mary anne. So just name "twyronee" with the superio

        • by PRMan (959735)
          I literally named my daughters by this principle and they have turned out exactly as I had hoped.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's quite simple really. If the police are always looking at you like you are up to no good, stopping you to check for weapons or stolen goods, if TV often portrays people who look like you as criminals, if shop security follow you around the whole time... Well, you are more likely to live up to their expectations.

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Art imitating reality or reality providing useful art?

            Or is there a difference?
            My guess is that if you want to look like a scary thug, people will tend to treat you like a scary thug. If you don't want to be singled out, then don't do things to single you out.

      • by Krishnoid (984597) *

        The problem is that it re-enforces the stereotype and actually does cause certain behaviour. If you constantly tell one group they are a bunch of criminals and just assume they are probably up to no good then you shouldn't be surprised when it turns out they are.

        Can you clarify what behavior you're referring to here? I don't understand what you mean by someone simultaneously:

        • assuming a class of people are up to no good, and
        • being surprised that they are.
      • by bitt3n (941736) on Monday February 04, 2013 @07:41PM (#42792065)

        The problem is that it re-enforces the stereotype and actually does cause certain behaviour. If you constantly tell one group they are a bunch of criminals and just assume they are probably up to no good then you shouldn't be surprised when it turns out they are.

        The point of treating everyone equally is to make it clear that regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or whatever you have the same chance, the same opportunity to make something of yourself. Of course in reality not everyone has access to good schools or good jobs, but if you keep re-enforcing that imagine it strengthens it. We still need to push to level the playing field, despite all the progress that has been made.

        So what do you propose? That Google censor itself in the interest of inducing desired behavior (in this case, law-abidance) in some subsection of the population? Considering the types of organizations that historically have attempted to improve a society by controlling 'dangerous' information, that seems a dubious idea.

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:15PM (#42790203)
      "Racism is denying the fact that many blacks in the US have been disadvantaged and largely as a result are more likely to get arrested."

      Fixed that for you. Even when they haven't committed any crime non-white people in general and black people in particular are more likely to get harassed by cops. They're also more likely to be arrested if they have committed a crime and once arrested more likely to go to jail. That is especially the case if the crime is something relatively minor, say getting caught with pot. If you're white and well off that would probably be a wrist slap at worst. If you're black and poor however...
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        if you are black you can almost guarantee that you will be charged "...with intent to distribute"
      • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:10PM (#42791007) Journal
        I am sympathetic to blacks who live in places with racist judges, however, it's important to remember that any attempt to equalize the incarceration rate is doomed to fail if it doesn't take into account that black people commit crime at a higher rate than white people. That's the unfortunate reality, and it's not racist unless you consider statistics to be racist.
        • by Daetrin (576516) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:47PM (#42791469)
          I'm not going to argue that it's impossible that black people actually commit more crimes than white people, but i'm curious what statistics you're citing and how that data was gathered.

          Let's imagine some mythical town which is 50% white and 50% black and whose judicial system is entirely free from irrational racism. However they rationally note that last year statistics showed black people were more likely to commit crimes than white people. So the cops pull over more black people and send out more patrols to predominately black neighborhoods. That's the rational thing to do after all. And surprise surprise! More black people end up getting arrested. So the statistics next year show black people are more likely to commit crimes. However a closer look at the data shows that both blacks and whites were equally likely to end up getting arrested after getting pulled over, and patrols in white neighborhoods had the same average number of arrests as patrols in black neighborhoods. Without any intentional racism on anyone's part racism still exists in the system just because of people blindly following statistics.

          I'm not saying we need to mandate equal incarceration rates. But everyone should be treated equally regardless of what statistics might say about the likelihood of "someone like them" having committed a crime. And if there is some statistical evidence that one group is committing more crime and/or ending up in jail more then we shouldn't be using that as a justification for treating the two groups differently, we should instead be taking a long hard and in-depth look at why the statistics are that way.

          However we're still at the point where some groups are being punished disproportionately for the same crime on a nationwide basis.
    • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:18PM (#42790265)

      What I always find amazing is we like to point fingers at results and scream racism. How about we look at what caused the statiscs to be that way in the first place?

      How about this for some hard core news? Black males between the ages of 13 and 30 commit more crimes per race than any other race. 1/3 of black males in that age group are ether, in prison, on parol, or waiting to be tried for something.

      How about we stop bitch'n about the satistics and screaming racism about every little thing? Why don't we take our heads out of the sand and start looking at the real god damn problem and trying to fix it? No, its far easier to scream racism than to fix the god damn problem.

    • Like 1 in 4 black men have been jailed at some point... Don't complain about the bail bond advertisements, complain that REALITY is still pretty racist.

    • by fermion (181285)
      as a result are more likely to commit crimes and get arrested.

      What I find interesting is people really believe that certain people commit more crimes. This misconception probably comes from the fact that people think everyone has an equal chance of being arrested.

      This is not really the case. One of the people I knew in high school was a drug dealer. Never go arrested, even joined the military. He was white. Some of my upper class acquaintances would get into a lot of trouble, drugs, underage drinki

      • by Nutria (679911)

        My black friends are stopped for things that I would never be stopped for.

        One night years ago, I (a young white male) was stopped by my suburban sheriff's office for walking through a black neighborhood. When I explained why I was there, they slowly drove away but u-turned to validate my story.

        I didn't get all pissy and offended, but was glad that the deputies were out and about instead of eating doughnuts.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        When I was in germany a few years ago I got stopped at least once a day. and I have a german backround!
    • Yes, its stats. That's not the point. The study illustrates the racism that is endemic in society. Not just the U.S., but in every human society.

      When a business targets African-Americans by buying names associated with African-Americans, that's textbook racism. Why? Because it's making assumptions about individuals based on their membership in a group.

      Ditto the self-serving argument that "Racism is denying the fact that many blacks in the US have been disadvantaged and largely as a result are more likel

    • by flyneye (84093)

      I agree and expand.
      Playing the "black " card on such an obvious targeting of ads is attention whoring. " Pay attention to me as I label those who offend my puritan morals with their business saavy. Since it is the racism card I play, no one will dare dispute me because I used the word black even if it was out of context. Look at me, look what I can do"
      Racism is ignoring blacks as a demographic due to poverty and sending them only ads for " subcultural trinkets" , fakey gold grills, Maxxon sunglasses,afro sh

    • by mspohr (589790)

      Yes, the racism is in the fact that blacks get arrested much more than whites.
      There are many factors. Racial profiling means that blacks are more likely to be stopped and questioned then arrested for minor offenses ("resisting arrest", etc.).
      Also, more likely to be arrested for drugs... (see this article on marijuana: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/nyregion/23about.html [nytimes.com])
      Another article about drugs from the UK but reporting on the US: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/oct/31/race-bias-drug-arrests-c [guardian.co.uk]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:04PM (#42790021)

    But does anyone know what the most popular names associated with arrest rates happen to be? Maybe there's actual correlation there?
    And I'm not saying that's correct either, since there is likely strong racial bias in many arrests made by officers themselves...

    • by oic0 (1864384) on Monday February 04, 2013 @07:03PM (#42791653)
      Arrests are debatable like you said, police bias. Murder rates however are not. there is a corpse to show for it. The murder rate difference is MASSIVE, and I mean massive. Exponential. All the talk of gun violence in the US usually leaves out that fact when comparing us to other countries. For instance, our white murder rate is very close to that of most European countries with gun bans. One race is a bit of a ringer and throws our stats way off by being 13% of the population but accounting for over 50% of murder.
  • by hsmith (818216) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:06PM (#42790049)
    Where people don't really understand what real racism actually is anymore.

    Which I guess is a good thing? But, it makes people that try to bend anything to be racism as complete fools.
    • by bondsbw (888959)

      But, it makes people that try to bend anything to be racism as complete tools.

      FTFY. Certain people want power, and they use these people to gain more of it.

      I'm personally tired of being called a racist (by family no less!) for voting against Obama. Nevermind that I voted independent... if I promote any conservative idea, it means I hate liberals, therefore I hate Obama, therefore I hate blacks.

      They don't even realize they are the ones doing the stereotyping.

  • Not Racism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:06PM (#42790055)

    It's not racism if the ads were being generated purely on statistical models. It may be a sad reflection of the state of African-Americans, but unless you can show how people have manipulated the process for some reason, it's merely statistics.

  • by wmbetts (1306001) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:10PM (#42790109)

    If these keywords weren't generating revenue for the ad buyers they wouldn't bid on them. It's really that simple. Those names make money for marketers with those ads.

    • by Dishwasha (125561)

      Yeah, Google doesn't really have anything to do with this. Advertisers are purchasing on certain keywords and then choosing what to display for those ads, not Google.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      Thing is, this doesn't make much sense. If people are looking for a bondsman or legal advice, why would they enter their own name in the search terms? Or am I misunderstanding what this researcher was trying to correlate?

      • by wmbetts (1306001)

        It's not I'm searching for a bondsman. It's more of I search for a name and oh look an ad. I need one of those *click*.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Thing is, this doesn't make much sense. If people are looking for a bondsman or legal advice, why would they enter their own name in the search terms? Or am I misunderstanding what this researcher was trying to correlate?

        Its social networking. Lets say hypothetically "Dan East" got arrested for internet trolling 5th degree on /. and his buddies started googling his name to read the cool news reports, read about how he plea bargained the charge down to involuntary rickrolling, etc etc. His buddies who like to keep track of him via google searches are probably into the same activities that he is, so its seemingly inevitable that people who google for "Dan" or "East" will more than average odds need a bail bondsman, defense

    • by vlm (69642)

      The obvious question is what do you get when you google for ubuntu? Bail bondsmen? There's probably a cellphone jailbreaking joke lurking in here somewhere.

      Now take it a step further and google for Hans Reiser. Think of the lives that could have been saved if only they googled for his name and found out he's a killer before he actually killed that chick. The almighty GOOG is a right outta minority report... I will say that naming a newborn "Hans Reiser" in 2013 is likely to result in issues.

  • Namism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bigby (659157) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:10PM (#42790111)

    This isn't racism; it is namism. Nowhere in the process is race ever part of the equation. If people named "Shaquille" are 5x more like to commit crimes, then that is a stereotype of the name "Shaquille"...a namist conclusion.

    Our facination or eagerness to link things to skin color is really counterproductive and ignores the real issue. IMO, names bring about stereotypes moreso than skin color. It spans gender, language, and race. What would you think the first time you saw someone with the last name "Hitler"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If I act like a stereotype, should I be upset when people treat me like a stereotype? But certain cultures eschew normalization in favor of maintaining stereo types, because it is a defining feature.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        ... and this is the root cause of a lot of problems. Not all culture is good and should be preserved.

    • I agree completely. If a white couple were to name their child Trevon, Lakisha or Darnell, I would expect that child to grow up with a greater chance of earning a criminal record as well.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:14PM (#42790193)

    Pick a subject, any subject, the reality of that subject is politically incorrect to someone, somewhere. You are politically incorrect to your ancestors just as your descendants will condemn you for being politically incorrect. I say this and it doesn't matter who you, what your culture is, where you live, your religion (or lack of religion) what your values are, what your accomplishments are or any other given thing. History is politically incorrect and it will remain that way because that is human nature.l

    Articles like this are rage mongering and professional trolling deserve to admonished. A little more tolerance by society would go a lot longer to ease race / religious / gender / etc relations that mongering articles like this ever will. It's why MLK was so popular and the like's of Jessie Jackson can never get past 3rd rate achievers. It's the difference between trolling for dollars and dreaming of tolerance.

    /rant off

  • Targeted Ads (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Java Pimp (98454) <java_pimp.yahoo@com> on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:16PM (#42790235) Homepage

    Targeted ads are by definition discriminating.

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:19PM (#42790283)

    isn't it racist to give them to your kids?

  • by markdavis (642305) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:23PM (#42790337)

    This is not "racism". Racism is a belief that one race is superior to another and/or a hatred or intolerance of another race.

    At most, this is prejudice.

  • by Dave Emami (237460) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:24PM (#42790351) Homepage

    Kit: The letter K appears in this script 1,456 times. That's perfectly divisible by 3.
    Freddy: So what? So what you saying?
    Kit: What am I saying? KKK appears in this script 486 times!

  • From TFA: "A more insidious explanation is that society as a whole is to blame. If Googleâ(TM)s Adsense service learns which ad combinations are more effective, it would first serve the arrest-related ads to all names at random. But this would change if it were to discover that click-throughs are more likely when these ads are served against a black-identifying name. In other words, the results merely reflect the discriminatory pattern of clicks from ordinary people."

    Um... no. If "black sounding" nam

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:31PM (#42790439)
    However, I have a keen proficiency when it comes to grasping the obvious. Black people make better running backs than white people. Asian's named Nguyen are more likely than white's named Cletus to get academic scholarships. At a Bar, an Hispanic male in his 20's is a much better percentage bet for party favors than a 50-something white woman. Should I be offended that Google singles me out for testosterone supplements?
  • This Harvard professor is assuming that people are being racist purposefully through adsense when she no real evidence to prove it.

    I don't see any numbers to prove whether her percentages are even statistically significant or not.

    Even if her results are correct, anyone even remotely familiar with google adsense would come to the more likely conclusion that the content of web pages reflect that people with those names are more likely to have been arrested. Almost all of the keyword combinations people use in

  • Or connecting the dots?

  • The NERVE! (Score:5, Informative)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:52PM (#42790741)

    What's next? Serving up maxi-pad ads to female names?

    I'm calling my congressperson.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:55PM (#42790787)

    They reflect searched content as written and only show the inherent racism of content generated across the web.

  • Black Americans represent 28.0% of arrests, and 12.6% of the population, which works out to 2.2 times the per-capita rate of all other Americans. This ratio is higher for murder and robbery. Thus it is perfectly normal that black identifying names correlate better with arrest records.

    No bias here. If I was one of this guy's students, I'll ask my money back.

  • If they detect that you are a woman, a much higher percentage of tampons ads appear. Simply insulting! If they detect that you are old (by having a name like Grover, for example) they will bomb you with ads for nursery homes. There is no end to it! It's almost like if they were targeting the ads to what their databases say your interests will be. They should call it targeted advertising then!

  • So, no one would see a problem with advertising for employment towards women being skewed to promote jobs as teachers and secretaries while reducing job advertisements for managers and doctors?

    • I don't think anyone should allow google ads for jobs greatly influence their career path.

      Google is a tool. You don't have to use it. Lots of people are racist. I doubt google as a corporation is racist. Given that there is racism in the world, an accurate search engine would necessarily reflect that. If you don't want to see reflections of the racism in the world on your computer, then there is nothing stopping you from abstaining from using google.

      I get a million ads about hot girls in my neighborhoo

  • Out of curiosity, did they control for browser/ip/cookies?
    We know that major search engines personalize the results.
    They do this by tracking cookies, browsers, ip addresses. Unless they controlled for those things, then this could just be a flawed experiment.

    Also do those names, unfortunately, have more pop-cultural references related to crime or arrests? It could just be revealing an unfortunate historical social trend. In which case more positive news with people with those names would stem the tide of

  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday February 04, 2013 @07:19PM (#42791839)
    I keep getting ads for bail bonds and DUII attorneys. This started happening lately -- the only change in my behavior lately is that I've stopped buying and drinking beer (reasons to do with the circumference of my waistline). While it's extremely disturbing, I wouldn't be surprised if that information -- somehow -- is filtering back to Internet ad companies. Who the fuck knows how they know, but they do.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday February 04, 2013 @07:26PM (#42791899) Homepage

    I know pathetically stupid, loser asian people. I know highly inteligent and educated black people. I know a lot of people who most definitely defy the stereotypes which we are all very aware of. But there was a time when I would have defended the practices being described. I will not defend them. It's rather disgusting if this is the truth.

    But all that said, stereotypes exist because of an overwhelming preponderance of anecdotal evidence. And in the end, advertisers want to get their ads in front of the people who would be the most interested in seeing them, So in "bad neighborhoods" we see billboards for bondsmen and lawyers among other things. And I have even seen this online when I am in areas with wifi in bad neighborhoods. While disgusting, it would not be practiced if it weren't also effective. So we shouldn't be asking "why are advertisers responding to statistical evidence?" We should be asking how can we make positive changes that result in a change in statistics!

    Because if we are seeing to have a practice which is largely based on statistical evidence, we are merely seeking to institutionalize denial of the truth. I'm just not inclined to deny a problem when solving it would seem more appropriate.

  • by mopower70 (250015) on Monday February 04, 2013 @09:40PM (#42792941) Homepage
    I can't imagine how anyone with a name like that would have a personal bias in interpreting these results. No sirree.

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