Facebook pays a tiny legal fine for falsifying video data that news media relied on to strategize

Mark Zuckerberg by Aaron-Schwartz, Shutterstock

Facebook has been forced to put out many fires over the last few years, many of which have come with hefty fines — like a $5 billion slap on the wrist by the Federal Trade Commission for privacy mishaps. Yet its latest forfeiture, $40 million in cash due to a lawsuit over its video metrics, is pocket change compared to the $55.3 billion in revenue that the company netted in 2018.

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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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