I tried to use the ad tech industry’s tool to opt out of personalized ads. Did it work?

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Last year, while reporting a story about how the digital advertising industry burrowed its tracking technology into scores of websites serving vulnerable and marginalized communities, I did something counterintuitive, especially for a reporter who writes about tech for a living: I surrendered to the surveillance economy. This decision to inject pure, uncut internet directly into my veins came as I was using and helping to create The Markup’s Blacklight tool, which opened my eyes even further to the plethora of companies that sought to grab my data from the websites I used on a daily basis. Until then, I had…

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Can auditing eliminate bias from algorithms?

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For more than a decade, journalists and researchers have been writing about the dangers of relying on algorithms to make weighty decisions: who gets locked up, who gets a job, who gets a loan — even who has priority for COVID-19 vaccines. Rather than remove bias, one algorithm after another has codified and perpetuated it, as companies have simultaneously continued to more or less shield their algorithms from public scrutiny. The big question ever since: How do we solve this problem? Lawmakers and researchers have advocated for algorithmic audits, which would dissect and stress-test algorithms to see how they work…

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Police say they can use facial recognition, despite bans

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Mere hours after supporters of former president Donald Trump forced their way into the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, sleuths, both amateur and professional, took up the task of combing through the voluminous videos and photos on social media to identify rioters. Facial recognition technology — long reviled by police reform advocates as inaccurate and racially biased — was suddenly everywhere. A college student in Washington, D.C., used facial recognition to extract faces from videos on social media. The Washington Post used facial recognition to count the number of individual faces at the Capitol Building attack, and a researcher from Citizen Lab used it to identify people…

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