Targeted Ads and/as Racial Discrimination: Exploring Trends in New York City Ads for College Scholarships

Chang, Ho-Chun Herbert
Bui, Matthew
Mcilwain, Charlton
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This paper uses and recycles data from a third-party digital marketing firm, to explore how targeted ads contribute to larger systems of racial discrimination. Focusing on a case study of targeted ads for educational searches in New York City, it discusses data visualizations and mappings of trends in the advertisements’ targeted populations alongside U.S census data corresponding to these target zipcodes. We summarize and reflect on the results to consider how internet platforms systemically and differentially target advertising messages to users based on race; the tangible harms and risks that result from an internet traffic system designed to discriminate; and finally, novel approaches and frameworks for further auditing systems amid opaque, black-boxed processes forestalling transparency and accountability.
Critical and Ethical Studies of Digital and Social Media, algorithmic audits, data ethics, discrimination, education, race
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