Facebook’s in hot water, Joberate is analyzing your lunchtime job search, AIs are racist and America is probably working too much. This is your Friday Five:
A new startup scrapes public data and analyzes it for signs of job hunting. Joberate is being positioned as a way for managers to better understand why and when people start to look for a job. CEO Michael Beygelman told WP that “one thing we don’t really have much understanding of is job search activity. Whenever someone resigned, it was a shock” Joberate does not access your private data, but rather looks at your social media activity and other publicly available data. So every time you click an apply button, Joberate might just be watching. According to Beygelman, his clients “don’t look at it as ‘aha, I’m going to spy on my people.’ They look at it as ‘I finally know what they’re thinking so I can help them.'” But I, and I bet you, have some doubts.
The Guardian reports that a beauty contest called Beauty.AI, judged, as the name implies, by an AI, revealed racial bias in its coding: the AI preferred light-skinned bias. Since there are few (maybe just symmetry?) empirical measures of beauty, the AI had to be programmed according to human taste, its judging was always going to reveal more about the programmers and the process than it did about the contestants or about the nature of beauty itself. Beauty.AI’s chief science officer, Alex Zhavoronkov, told the Guardian that “while there are a number of reasons why the algorithm favored white people, the main problem was that the data the project used to establish standards of attractiveness did not include enough minorities.”
Does it feel like you’re working harder than ever but not getting ahead? MotherJones has some interesting charts looking at productivity, wages, working hours and more. It’s interesting data to consider in combination with monthly BLS jobs reports and regular earnings reports from the countries most profitable companies. While it’s true that the overall job picture in America isn’t grim, it’s also true that the benefits of growth, productivity and the economic recovery aren’t felt equally; some have had none of the benefit at all.
My friends and I joke about personal branding as much as we also take it seriously. Of course it’s important, but everyone knows someone who’s taken it too far, who’s become more brand than person. FastCompany looks at the burnout that can come from taking your personal branding to extremes, from living for your brand, rather than living your life and basing your brand on that.
Earlier this week Facebook sparked off another controversy when it took down a post analyzing war photography that included Nick Ut’s Pulitzer winner photo of 9-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam war. Facebook subsequently banned the user and has been dealing with the fallout since, as other users, including politicians and journalists, have responded by sharing the image and protesting Facebook’s choice to censor it. Per Facebook’s terms of service, “any photographs of people displaying fully nude genitalia or buttocks, or fully nude female breast, will be removed,” even if they’re one of the most famous war photos of all time (or just a woman breastfeeding her child).
Facebook isn’t a truly public space, and the social network gets to determine what can and can’t be shared on it, but it’s worth thinking the effect that such a massive, international social network, with such blanket policies, can have on public, private and commercial discourse. These kinds of incidents just remind us to consider it.