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How the online business model encourages prejudice

The article talks about the process of advertising on the web similarly to the way we learned about it in lecture, with a few key changes that make the advertising extremely biased.

The unique factor in this advertising tactic is the personal information the ad companies are given when a user visits a website. This information is used in order to determine which advertiser values selling their ad to you the most. This could be compared to determining prices in auctioning advertisements on the web, which we talked about in class. The prices are determined, in this case, upon how much they want to advertise to a specific user based on their personal information. Therefore, advertisers will target and pay the most to show their ads to specific users that they care most about advertising to.

This type of advertising is a first-price auction which does not consider CTR, because the advertisers must decide how much the cost of advertising is worth to them based on the personal information and do not pay based upon how many people actually click on the ad. Since they are auctioning to win a slot, they must pay the website to show their ad based strictly upon personal information rather than clicks. This all happens very quickly when a user visits the website.

It is clear that type of online advertising is discriminatory due to its targeting nature based upon sensitive information. One of the recurring incidents reported in the article is job advertisements that were being advertised strictly to men. It is interesting to consider if and how this discriminatory advertising will change in the future. From an ethical standpoint, it must change due to its biased nature.


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October 2018