Sep 15, 2017

Facebook's problematic ad targeting raises big questions

Noah Berger / AP

It is concerning enough that Facebook's ad system was letting buyers target people with self-described categories like "Jew hater" until ProPublica brought the issue to the social network's attention. (Facebook has now temporarily disabled the self-reported education and employer targeting fields, which is where most of the offenses occurred.)

  • The big question: What about when Facebook's and Google's algorithms are good enough to know that an advertiser wants to target bigots without them needing to type in "Jew hater"?
  • Why this is a concern: We know about this current problem because Facebook's algorithms are still manual enough that buyers are targeting by keyword. But what about when the system is good enough to understand the kind of person someone is trying to reach, without requiring someone to type in such obviously offensive keywords?

It's issues like these that the tech industry needs to confront now, at the dawn of the machine-learning era, before our biases become codified.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,595,350 — Total deaths: 95,455 — Total recoveries: 353,975Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 461,437 — Total deaths: 16,478 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  6. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  7. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  8. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return to the air this weekend with a remotely produced episode.
  9. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

The view from the other side of the coronavirus peak

We'll soon be crowding into cafes it's 1954 in Rapallo, Italy. Photo: LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

Europeans and Americans are desperate to move beyond the worst of the crisis and return to something approximating normality, but the World Health Organization is cautioning that moving too fast will undermine the sacrifices made so far.

Where things stand: Nearly every country on Earth is still seeing their caseload increase, and a recent uptick in Singapore shows that apparent victory over the virus can be fleeting. But several countries are providing reason for optimism.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World