Nov 12, 2019

Regulators investigate Apple Card's algorithms for gender bias

Photo: Apple

State regulators in New York are looking into whether Apple Card is violating any laws by giving some spouses lower credit limits than their mates.

Background: It all began with a series of tweets that went viral by well-known software engineer (and Ruby on Rails creator) David Heinemeier Hansson, complaining that he was given 20 times as much credit as his spouse (even though she had a higher credit rating).

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak chimed in, saying he and his wife had a similar experience.

Why it matters: Apple has billed its credit card as devoid of the fees and hassles of traditional credit cards; the current incident is a reminder of just how much of Apple Card under the hood is traditional consumer credit.

Between the lines: While the issue appears specific to Apple, it may be exposing a broader industry issue.

  • What's unique about Apple Card is it is always an individual, not a family account.
  • That's meant Apple had a lot of spouses applying for the same card at the same time, highlighting the discrepancy in credit limits.

What they're saying: Apple deferred to Goldman Sachs, which makes the credit decisions as the issuing bank.

In a statement, Goldman said it doesn't know the gender or marital status of applicants, but suspects that affected spouses may have been authorized users and not primary account holders on past credit cards, and thus not building as much credit on their own.

  • Goldman invited customers who think their "credit line does not adequately reflect your creditworthiness" to request a re-evaluation."

My thought bubble: Apple is right to note that Goldman makes the decisions. But it is also true that Apple will get a significant share of the blame, in no small part because the lengths that it has gone in establishing Apple Card as its baby, even using the tag line: "Created by Apple. Not a bank."

Go deeper: The Apple Card, like checks and Venmo, fails the instant payments test

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 5,559,130 — Total deaths: 348,610 — Total recoveries — 2,277,087Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,679,419 — Total deaths: 98,852 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: CDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets for first time

President Trump briefs reporters in the Rose Garden on May 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to "get the facts" through news stories that cover the topic.

Why it matters: Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the president.

House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting

Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

20 House Republicans plan to file a lawsuit late Tuesday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an effort to block the chamber's new proxy voting system amid the coronavirus pandemic, three congressional sources tell Axios.

The big picture: The lawsuit, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, alleges the rules are unconstitutional because the Constitution requires a quorum, or a majority, of lawmakers to be physically present in order to conduct business. The lawsuit was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.