Tag Archives: African-Amercan

Facebook Fights Ad Discrimination


Facebook is fighting back against advertisers that discriminate. The world’s largest social media website has been severely criticized for its ethnic affinity advertising tool. The technology, while not intended to be used as a discrimination tool, has been used for just that. Ethnic affinity has been used to advertise for jobs, housing and financial services carefully targeted to eliminate certain groups from seeing the ad. 

Ethnic affinity works by allowing advertisers to craft ads targeted to highy specific audiences. As a result many advertisers were using it to block the ads from being seen by minorities and other groups. The tool can weed out people by profiles that includes specifics such as race, gender, age, favorite movies, food preferences and geography.

The issue became known in early 2016 and lawmakers, civil rights groups and other advocates quickly pounced. The tool apparently violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits this type of discrimination.

Facebook annouced in November of last year it was going to makes changes to the policies that govern the use of the tool. Facebook’s  policies “make it clear that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.” The company also announced that will help educate advertisers on anti-discrimination practices.

Facebook also annouced that it will use machine learning technology together with the new policies.  The technology will help identify advertisers that exclude users who show interest in African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic content on the site.

Facebook will still offer the ethnic affinity tool but ads offering housing, employment, and credit opportunities that include or exclude certain demographic groups will be disapproved. Ads  targeted toward another audience section will be prompted to certify that the advertisement complies with the new policy. Advertisers will have the ability to request a manual review of ads that get flagged under the new rules.

Breaking It Down

This is a great step by Facebook but discrmination is not so easily discouraged or defeated. The whole idea of advertsing is to reach a desired audience. But stereotypes are inherent in the mind of all people. This leads to the idea that certain groups are racially or culturally inadequate for a certain product or service. Permitting the marketer to specify who he wants to do business with is not exactly wrong. However, allowing the advertiser to exclude people based on inherent biases is wrong and creates the type of second class citizen that the Civil Rights Act was meant to eliminate.  This is a tough situation for Facebook and I respect their reaction. But, in all honesty, we as society need to to continue to work on how we see one another. Maybe social media can help. Maybe not. But one thing for sure, at least Facebook has not shied away from the fight.

Racism Online: Facebook Profited From Racist Ads

Facebook-logo-PSDFacebook has allowed advertisers to discriminate against people of color. As simple as that. The world’s largest social media site is also the greatest collector of personal information in the history of mankind. To profit from this data Facebook allowed companies to advertise to certain groups while excluding others. The result is that African-Americans and people of color couldn’t learn about certain jobs, housing and financial opportunities; i.e credit.

Facebook has labeled its ultra targeted advertising capabilities as “Ethnic Affinity” marketing. Concern has grown among policy makers and civil rights leaders that marketers have used “Ethnic Affinity” marketing to discriminate against minorities. 

Facebook assigns users an “Ethnic Affinity” based on the pages and posts they have liked or engaged with. Facebook claims it bans advertisers from discriminating against racial or ethnic groups. 

Advertising that excludes people based on race, gender and other sensitive criteria are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment. Yet Facebook has made it possible and profitable. According to The Verge last year Facebook posted revenues of $17.93 billion in revenue in 2015 up 44 percent from 2014.  Almost all of it came from advertising. Facebook earns $13.54 for every user, up from $9 in the same quarter last year and that includes African-Americans and other minorities.

Facebook’s “Ethnic Affinity”marketing has come under fire from federal lawmakers for permitting advertisers to restrict its ads. This is known as red lining and it was common during the pre-civil rights era.

Pro Publica, a non-profit independent news website, exposed the practice after it placed an ad for a housing-related event that deliberately excluded African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws acted by engaging Facebook with “serious concerns” about this discriminatory program.

Facebook users have filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against the social media behemoth. The group asserts that “Ethnic Affinity” marketing is discriminatory ad-targeting technology that violates the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California stated; “There is no mechanism to prevent ad buyers from purchasing ads related to employment/housing and then excluding based on these illegal characteristics.”  Facebook says the lawsuit is without merit and it will fight it.

However, Facebook has responded to the complaints and modified the discriminatory advertising program. Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy Erin Egan told USA Today, “We are going to turn off, actually prohibit, the use of “Ethnic Affinity” marketing for ads that we identify as offering housing, employment and credit.”

Facebook’s decided to change after discussions with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) and the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and the  Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Egan added that Facebook’s changes, in part, came from “constructive dialogue” with advocacy groups such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Brookings Institution and Upturn.

Regardless of what Facebook says, it isn’t killing “Ethnic Affinity” marketing altogether. Instead, the company claims to be building tools that will automatically disable the targeting for ads that involve housing, employment or credit.

Egan went on to say that “There are many non-discriminatory uses of our ethnic affinity solution in these areas, but we have decided that we can best guard against discrimination by suspending these types of ads. We will continue to explore ways that our ethnic affinity solutions can be used to promote inclusion of underrepresented communities, and we will continue to work with stakeholders toward that goal.”

Breaking It Down

First of all I am a Facebook user. Ok so who isn’t? But I have some serious issues with Facebook and it’s totally corporate behavior. By corporate behavior I mean that Facebook has engaged in a behavior that it had to know was wrong at best and illegal at it’s worst. But by being a corporation it got away with this racist practice as long as it could, took the profits before getting caught, and then saying “Ok, you got us. Sorry. We’ll fix it.” This is blatant corporate behavior and it it was deliberate. How can a company like Facebook, with a genius at the helm and literally thousands of very intelligent employees not see “Ethnic Affinity” marketing being misused? I’m not saying that Facebook designed the program to be discriminatory but it was being used that way and they had to have seen it. But as long as the money was rolling in and no one was complaining then lets keep it going. This is simply inexcusable. Yeah sue ’em! Make em pay! This cannot be tolerated!

Online Holiday Shopping 2015 – The Death of Black Friday

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Courtesy Stuart Miles

Everyone has a story about Black Friday. Sometimes its about a great deal on a flat screen TV or a horror story about the ugly crowds and inhuman behavior. Thankfully Black Friday is dead.

More and more online retailers are offering Black Friday deals throughout the holiday season. Amazon, one of the worlds’ largest online retailers, announced it’s Black Friday Deals Store . The store is open for all Amazon customers but Amazon Prime members will get a 30 minute head start on 30,000 of Amazon’sLightning Deals.”

On of the biggest selling items during the holiday season is consumer electronics. Everyone is wishing for a giant flat screen television, laptop or tablets and other electronic goodies. Online retailer Newegg is one of many retailers killing Black Friday.

Newegg is calling this month Black November as it prepares for the holiday season war for tech dollars. Although the company has not announced specific sale details it has outlined plans to kick off deals on more than 900 products that include sales all through the month and more deals on Cyber Monday.  Retailers are jumping on the band wagon describing their holiday sales plans minus details but with promises for more specific sale information later.

America’s store, Walmart, is also offering Black Friday prices online including Apple products like the iPad Mini. The trend for many retailers is to get Black Friday deals into the stores as early as possible for as long as possible. Smart shoppers will be walking the aisles early in November and getting the same or better deals than people waiting in line at 4:00AM Friday morning. The best deals with the best selection and availability are being offered now!

Black Friday is not what many shoppers believe it to be. First of all most deals on this ugly shopping day are extremely limited in price and quantity. For example last year a major retailer advertised a Black Friday sale on a particular microwave oven for $99 when the regular price was well over $300. Thousands of people lined up all over the nation for the bargain. The harsh reality is that each store was allotted only 15 of the appliances. Consumers who read the fine details of those sales flyers will see the disclaimer “limited quantities” written in small print.

Another Black Friday deception consumers need to be aware of is the inflating of prices. Many retailers will offer products at inflated prices only to slash the price on Black Friday creating the illusion of a great deal.

Retailers are well aware that many shoppers running through their stores looking for a great deal will find something they did not come there for. Impulse buying is a big money maker and the more eyes in the store the more items will be sold.

Most of the best Black Friday sales will be found online. TheBlackFriday.com website has an extensive listing of stores and products that are selling at Black Friday prices today! Shoppers can sign up for Black Friday price alerts sent to their email.

Another website pushing early Black Friday deals is BlackFriday.com (different from the one above). This site also offers pre-Black Friday prices for products and advertisement for online sales and email alerts as well.

DealNews.com offers list of the Top 5 Best Black Friday Deals Online that is heavy with the electronics retailers but of course Walmart is among the five.

Holiday Shopping; Now you know.

The Snitch: Airline Boarding Passes

Boarding-passThe holiday season is fast approaching. Soon you maybe buying a plane ticket to see far flung relatives. That airline boarding pass is the ticket to get where you are going. And that boarding pass also knows a lot about you.

Airline boarding passes are a wealth of information about the passenger and in the wrong hands it can be a nightmare personal data loss. A first glance you will notice your name departure and destination information, flight number and seat assignment. Other information includes your frequent flyer account number. And in case you haven’t heard there are plenty scams that target frequent flyers and their cherished miles or points.

Cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab have spotted phishing scams that access frequent flyer accounts of airlines in order to steal the frequent flyer miles. 

Criminals have distributed emails that entice airline customers with either prizes or more points in customers’ frequent flyer account. Victims are asked to enter their login information on a fake website. Once the hacker has their user name and password the miles or points are quickly stolen.  

A lot of information on that boarding pass is encoded. You will see a lot of numbers and barcodes. But it is fairy easy for a determined criminal to decipher those numbers and alphabets and even read the bar codes. There is a website dedicated to reading barcodes that can easily decipher that information.  According to Krebsonsecurity.com a boarding pass can reveal a lot more than most people realize.

Even if you are not a frequent flyer your name or maybe you email address or phone number are valuable information for a criminal. So once the trip is over do yourself a favor and destroy that boarding pass by shredding it or any method to make the data un-recoverable.

Now you know

 

App of the Week – OneRx

OneRxMedicine is expensive. Whether you have insurance or not the price of prescription drugs can be astronomical. That is why OneRx is the App of the Week.

Why are prescription drugs so expensive. Because drug companies spend billions of dollars and years researching and testing new drugs. Sometimes only to have the Food and Drug Administration deny them the the right to sell it. There is always the chance of a massive lawsuits from unforseen side effects. Creating a new drug is a gamble. If approved for use by the FDA, the drug company has the right to recoup their investment plus profits over a period of time usually years. Only then does the generic equivalent hit the market.

Generic drugs are the biochemical equivalent of a name brand drug and even though they are the same drug they sell for much, much less than brand name drugs. According to the Food and Drug Administration generic drugs save the consumer $8 to $10 billion dollars a year in retail sales.

Black people still struggle to pay for much needed medications. Research shows that people of color are twice as likely to be without medical insurance than white Americans. According to the NAACP;

  • 18% of African Americans under 65 years are without health insurance coverage.
  • Over 103 million people of color nationwide suffer disproportionately in the health care system
  • A larger share of African Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor.

One Rx has a way to help. OneRx combines coupons and insurance discounts to figure out how little a person has to spend on medication. The app allows the user to know the price of the medication before the doctor writes the prescription. This is especially helpful if you find your insurance doesn’t cover the medicine prescribed.

The best thing about this app is that it works even if you don’t have insurance.

OneRX takes the users insurance card information that is submitted by picture or input by hand. It then combines how much your insurance will pay with available coupons then tells you what pharmacies can give you that price. If you are having trouble paying for prescription drugs you can find more help here.

OneRX is free and available for Apple and Android devices.