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Machine Bias

Investigating Algorithmic Injustice

Investigating algorithmic injustice and the formulas that influence our lives.

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Despite Disavowals, Leading Tech Companies Help Extremist Sites Monetize Hate

Most tech companies have policies against working with hate websites. Yet a ProPublica survey found that PayPal, Stripe, Newsmax and others help keep more than half of the most-visited extremist sites in business.

Other Entries

I Approved This Facebook Message — But You Don’t Know That

The Federal Election Commission said in December that big political ads on the social network need disclaimers. But many candidates and groups don’t seem to be paying attention.

Outlets in Eight Countries Are Using Our Tool to Monitor Political Ads on Facebook

From Australia to Scandinavia, our Political Ad Collector is holding advertisers accountable by revealing pitches that only a targeted slice of Facebook users would otherwise see.

Congressman’s Bill Would Force Trump Administration to Fulfill Pledge to Study Racial Disparities in Auto Insurance Pricing

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., cited our report that minority neighborhoods pay higher car insurance premiums than white areas with the same risk.

Facebook’s Experiment in Ad Transparency Is Like Playing Hide And Seek

Starting in Canada, Facebook is rolling out a global program to prevent foreign meddling in elections. Ads targeted to a narrow audience may be seen by other Facebook users — if they look hard enough.

AARP and Key Senators Urge Companies to End Age Bias in Recruiting on Facebook

A ProPublica/New York Times report last month has raised concerns about online job ads discriminating against older workers.

What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech?

Our analysis shows that Facebook’s content reviewers often make different calls on whether to allow or delete items with similar content. See the inconsistencies.

Facebook’s Uneven Enforcement of Hate Speech Rules Allows Vile Posts to Stay Up

We asked Facebook about its handling of 49 posts that might be deemed offensive. The company acknowledged that its content reviewers had made the wrong call on 22 of them.

Dozens of Companies Are Using Facebook to Exclude Older Workers From Job Ads

Among the companies we found doing it: Amazon, Verizon, UPS and Facebook itself. “It’s blatantly unlawful,” said one employment law expert.

These Are the Job Ads You Can’t See on Facebook If You’re Older

It is against the law to discriminate against workers older than 40 in hiring and recruitment. We found dozens of companies who bought Facebook ads aimed at recruiting workers within limited age ranges.

New York City Moves to Create Accountability for Algorithms

Spurred by a ProPublica report, the New York City Council passed the country’s first bill to address algorithmic discrimination in city government.

Facebook Allowed Political Ads That Were Actually Scams and Malware

These ads raise doubts about Facebook’s ability to monitor paid political messages. In each case, the ads ran afoul of Facebook’s own guidelines to curb misleading and malicious advertising.

Facebook to Temporarily Block Advertisers From Excluding Audiences by Race

The social network’s actions come after a ProPublica investigation revealed that Facebook failed to keep its promise to reject discriminatory housing ads.

Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude Users by Race

After ProPublica revealed last year that Facebook advertisers could target housing ads to whites only, the company announced it had built a system to spot and reject discriminatory ads. We retested and found major omissions.

Federal Judge Unseals New York Crime Lab’s Software for Analyzing DNA Evidence

We asked the judge to make the source code public after scientists and defense attorneys raised concerns that flaws in its design may have resulted in innocent people going to prison.

Facebook Allowed Questionable Ads in German Election Despite Warnings

CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to ensure the campaign’s integrity, but the company didn’t take down anti-Green party posts of unknown origin.

German Political Ads Collected From Facebook

During the German parliamentary elections in September, many Germans used ProPublica's Political Ad Collector to identify political advertising in their Facebook news feeds. This database provides a rare window into political ads on Facebook, which are not normally seen by the general public.

Putting Crime Scene DNA Analysis on Trial

We reported on a dispute over the methods used by New York City’s crime lab to analyze complex DNA samples. Now similar concerns are prompting a national study. In this Q&A, a leading expert explains why labs may be making mistakes — and what can be done about it.

ProPublica Seeks Source Code for New York City’s Disputed DNA Software

We’re asking a federal court for the code behind a technique that critics say may have put innocent people in prison.

Facebook Moves to Prevent Advertisers From Targeting Haters

Following our report that advertisers could use Facebook to reach self-identified anti-Semites, the company said it would remove all audience categories based on users’ reports of their interests, education and employment.

Facebook Enabled Advertisers to Reach ‘Jew Haters’

After being contacted by ProPublica, Facebook removed several anti-Semitic ad categories and promised to improve monitoring.

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