True.com Sent 'Race-Customized' Valentines
How are True.com’s Valentine’s Day e-mails targeted? Very simply: one version of their e-mail targets black singles, another targets East Indian lonely hearts, and other versions target the Asian and Hispanic loveless. (Our multi-cultural bots were lucky enough to get one of each). There’s nothing wrong with that on the surface. But we wondered how True.com could know which version of its e-mails to send to which users?
So writes Hannah Rosenbaum in “True.com Uses Adult List to Send Targeted Valentine’s Day E-mail.” I’m going to disagree. It is wrong to track the color of people’s skin and use it as part of your decision making process. It’s wrong at the surface, and it’s wrong in very deep ways. It may even be wrong with explicit consent, which ‘True’ certainly didn’t have.
Speaking of wrong, I’d mentioned the lovely people at ‘true’ before, in “Choicepoint, March 21.” I wonder if their data on race is any better than their criminal background histories? Siteadvisor’s one data point per person is a beautiful way to watch the flow of data behind the scenes, but it fails to capture the rich tapestries of our lives, the poor quality of the data (what we used to call garbage-in, garbage-out), or how companies cope with the chaos.