News@Northeastern: Your Gender And Race Might Be Determining Which Facebook Ads You See. “The research was troubling. It showed that the group of users to whom Facebook chose to show ads can be skewed along gender and racial lines, in potential violation of federal laws that prevent discrimination in ads for employment, housing, and credit. A Northeastern team tested Facebook’s advertising system with a series of online advertisements. As the researchers tweaked the images, Facebook’s system presented the ads more predominantly to specific racial and gender groups.” This is not the researchers intentionally microtargeting. This is Facebook’s own algorithm doing this.
Mother Jones: Activists Couldn’t Get Facebook to Tackle Its Discrimination Problem—Until the Russia Scandal Hit. “Famously launched from Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room in 2004, Facebook now has more users than Christianity has adherents. In 15 years of unregulated growth, it has become a place where companies can market fancy houses to white people and junk food to black children, where hate speech is amplified and the right to vote is suppressed. As the problems multiplied, some advocates and watchdogs came to believe that the repeated civil rights violations on the platform were rooted in a deliberate decision by Facebook to ignore evidence of advertising discrimination, voter suppression, and the proliferation of hate speech and extremism.”
Los Angeles Times: Procter & Gamble puts digital ad platforms like Facebook and Google on notice. “In a speech at an industry conference Thursday, P&G’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, blasted the digital media industry for lack of transparency, fraud, privacy breaches and a proliferation of violent and harmful content placed next to ads. He said his company, which spends billions of dollars every year marketing products from paper towels to shampoo, would move its money to services that can guarantee effectiveness, are completely free of offensive content and are more willing to share consumer data with advertisers.” I was right there with him until that last bit.
BuzzFeed News: Facebook Showed Me My Data Is Everywhere And I Have Absolutely No Control Over It. “On Facebook under Settings, there’s a page in the Ads section where you can view your Ad Preferences. Most of this is fairly straightforward — choices about how you’ll allow ads and how advertisers target you based on things like what pages you’ve liked. But there’s one section there that will probably surprise you: a list of advertisers ‘Who use a contact list added to Facebook.'”
Press-Herald: Scammers peddling bogus tax breaks find traction on Facebook. “Hundreds of ads on Facebook promised U.S. homeowners that they were eligible for huge state tax breaks if they installed new solar-energy panels. There was just one catch: None of it was true. The scam ads used photos of nearly every U.S. governor — and sometimes President Trump — to claim that with new, lucrative tax incentives, people might actually make money by installing solar technology on their homes. Facebook users only needed to enter their addresses, email, utility information and phone number to find out more. Those incentives don’t exist.”
The Register: Facebook ad platform discriminates all on its own, say boffins . “Facebook has been taking a lot of stick over discrimination on its platform but a new paper suggests that the problems with the platform could go deeper….research just published through pre-print server ArXiv suggests preventing advertisers from distributing discriminatory ads is only part of the challenge for those favoring equity; Facebook also needs to examine the bias baked into its ad slinging infrastructure.”
Techdirt: What If Google And Facebook Admitted That All This Ad Targeting Really Doesn’t Work That Well?. “Advertisers have been completely sucked into the belief that if you want to get results for your ads, you simply have to throw money at those two giants, and they’ll mix some magic pixie dust with all the data they’ve collected, and voila: perfectly targeted advertising. Everyone get so focused on magic words like ‘big data’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘machine learning’ that they rarely ask the larger question: does any of it actually matter?”