It’s hard to imagine this wasn’t a centrally coordinated effort.
You probably have no interest in targeting online advertising to attract people who hate Jews, use the N-word, or react positively to terms like “Nazi” and “wetback.” Besides not caring to reach such fringe audiences, chances are you don’t advertise online.
But just in case you do have one or more of these very specific goals, BuzzFeed, ProPublica, and Daily Beast have determined for you where you could accomplish them. Put some naughty search terms into the advertising platforms at Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And presto: the algorithms in operation will give you lists of such words, and related repugnant expressions, with which to tailor your ad buys.
The downright peculiar thing about this information is that it all came out in a three-day period last week.
BuzzFeed published its report on Google on 15 September. (BuzzFeed, you will remember, was at the center of the sudden Fake News theme in 2016. Which didn’t go so well in terms of the raw data BuzzFeed used.)
The Daily Beast posted its report about Twitter on 16 September.
The odds that three left-wing media sites spontaneously decided to “investigate” this arcane phenomenon at the exact same time are vanishingly low. (They even managed to share the workload, with no duplication of effort.)
In fact, given that Google partnered earlier this year with ProPublica and BuzzFeed to “us[e] machine learning to document ‘hate crimes and events’ in America,” the odds are even lower that Google was being tested by BuzzFeed on hate-word advertising unwittingly.
Well. You decide about that.
by J.E. Dyer