Anti-Immigration Ads Don't Add Up in 2008

Washington DC -- A new report released today by America's Voice analyzes the use of immigration in political ads during the 2008 election cycle.  Of the 234 television ads that ran on the issue of immigration, 84% focused on stricter security measures and anti-immigrant language.  However, that strategy was a complete failure. Only 32% of candidates supported in the harshest category of ads won their races.

To compile the report, America's Voice used information from the Campaign Media and Analysis Group (CMAG) to track immigration ads in the 2008 cycle. We found that the issue of immigration was used in 234 television ads in 79 races and 35 states at a cost of $27.2 million.

We then ranked the ads were on a scale of 1 (positive and pro-immigrant) to 5 (extremely anti-immigrant).  The report finds that 56% of the ads fell under category 5, at a cost of $21 million.  Ads that were ranked 1 were only 5% of the total ads, representing $2.7 million.

Even though significant money and resources were poured into anti-immigrant ads, the bulk of the candidates using them were not elected.  Of the 218 ads aired by Republicans or Democrats in races that have been decided, only 69, or 32% favored a winning candidate.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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