The Washington Post’s Kevin Munger used Twitter bots, one “white” and one “black” to tackle racism and appears to have worked out a strategy which reduces racist slurs.
Munger used Twitter accounts to send messages designed to remind harassers of the humanity of their victims and to reconsider the norms of online behaviour.
He sent every harasser the same message:
@[subject] Hey man, just remember that there are real people who are hurt when you harass them with that kind of language
He then used a racial slur as the search term because it was the strongest evidence that a tweet might contain racist harassment. He restricted the sample to users who had a history of using offensive language, and only included white subjects or anonymous people.
He bought followers for half of the bots — 500 followers, to be specific — and gave the remaining bots only two followers each (see screenshot above). This represents a large status difference: a Twitter user with two followers is unlikely to be taken seriously, while 500 followers is a substantial number.
Only one of the four types of bots caused a significant reduction in the subjects’ rate of tweeting slurs – the white bots with 500 followers.
Generally, though he found it is possible to cause people to use less harassing language and it is more most likely when both individuals share a social identity. Unsurprisingly, high status people are also more likely to cause a change.
Munger thinks that many are already engaged in sanctioning bad behaviour online, but they are doing it in a way that can backfire. If people call out bad behaviour in a way that emphasises the social distance between themselves and the person they’re calling out then telling people off is less likely to be effective.
The fruity tax dodging iphone maker has a problem with racial and sexual diversity and part of that bothersome thing might be that it does not really have the social skills to identify what the problem actually is.
This week Apple was cornered by Mic Magazine about its commitment to diversity. At its recent rally to flog the iPhone women spoke for approximately eight minutes; men spoke for 99. Furthermore, most of the women and people of colour who appeared onstage weren’t Apple representatives.
Apple said that there was a “lot of diversity on that stage that reporters don’t recognize”. Unrecognized by you was the fact that we had a gay man, two African-Americans (Instagram and Nike), a Canadian and a British woman, Hannah Catmur.
The two black men were Nike Brand president Trevor Edwards and Instagram head of design Ian Spalter. Who were nothing to do with Apple. Hannah Catmur is head of design at ViewRanger. The aforementioned Canadian is likely Heather Price, also not an Apple employee. She’s a founding partner at Vancouver-based This Game Studio.
What is funny is that Apple considers Canadians and British people as making it ethnically diverse.
Apple did make progress in making more diverse hires, per its public diversity report. It hired 65 percent more women, 50 percent more African-Americans and 66 percent more Latinos in 2014 than in 2013, USA Today reported in 2015.
But Jobs’ Mob is predominantly male and white — 68 percent male and 56 percent white. The ratios change when you focus on Apple’s leadership, which is 72 percent male and 67 percent white.
All this represents a serious problem which is made worse if you think that you can solve it by presenting ethnic minorities and women from outside companies as your own, and thinking that foreign white people are giving you ethnic diversity.
Google has decided to do something about the fact that most of its 50,000 employees are white men.
According to the outfit, of its overall worldwide workforce, 70 percent are male, while in the company’s tech department it’s even more pronounced: only 17 percent of staff are women.
In the US, six out of ten ‘Googlers’ are white and three out of ten are Asian. Just three percent are Hispanic and two percent are black.
Google has said that it is publishing its figures because it is not where it wants to be when it comes to diversity and wants to fully address the matter.
Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, said the outfit had been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of the Google workforce. However that was wrong as it was time to be candid.
“We’re the first to admit that Google is miles from where we want to be – and that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution,” he said.
Apple, Twitter and Amazon have also been criticised lately for a lack of women or people from ethnic minorities in high positions.
It is not clear what Google plans to do about the matter after putting its hands up. Our guess is that they will have to bring in some form of positive discrimination programme until the problem goes away. But it will take a while before the right man for the job is a woman.
A Harvard professor claims that some of Google’s ads discriminate, linking “racially associated” names to a possible criminal background.
Government and technology professor Latanya Sweeney looked at 2,184 full names on Google and Reuters.com, which uses Google AdWords advertisements.
She found that names associated with black people were more likely to show ads suggesting arrest, as compared to “white identifying” names.
Names associated with black people, such as DeShawn, Darnell and Jermaine netted criminal ads in 81 to 86 percent of searches on one site, and up to 95 percent on the other.
However Geoffrey, Jill and Emma, more typically associated with white people, resulted in these types of ads 23 to 29 percent of the time on one site and zero to 60 percent on the other, Sweeney’s study claimed.
If you did a search on “Latonya Evans” you were more likely to see “Latonya Evans, Arrested?” while the name Laurie Ryan gave a benign result of “Background of Laurie Ryan”.
Google insists that it does not conduct racial profiling in AdWords.
In a statement to ABC News, Google said that it had a policy which forbids ads that advocate against an organisation, person or group of people. It is up to individual advertisers to decide which keywords they want to choose to trigger their ads.
Sweeney claims that more research is needed and suggests possible blame on Google’s algorithms and financial interests with advertisers.