Summary of How the Internet Keeps Poor People in Poor Neighborhoods

These invisible decisions group us digitally – and in real life.


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How the Internet Keeps Poor People in Poor Neighborhoods summary
Are digital ads segregating communities?


8 Overall

7 Applicability

9 Innovation

8 Style


Housing discrimination has divided the United States: White families still predominantly live in middle-class neighborhoods while black Americans are more likely to reside in lower-class areas. Discriminatory housing practices are technically illegal, but the algorithms that underlie targeted online ads continue to reinforce segregation.Using – partially interactive – cartoons for illustration, graphics reporter Alvin Chang explains how targeted ads become racist. getAbstract recommends this analysis to tech-based marketers, online advertising managers and everyone interested in civil rights.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How online ads undermine fair housing laws,
  • How users’ online preferences influence which ads they see, and
  • Why Google and Facebook must begin self-testing for discriminatory ads.


Housing discrimination isn’t new. Past racist housing policies placed white families in middle-class neighborhoods and black families in lower-class areas. Although the Fair Housing Act made the practice illegal and courts have been holding newspapers liable for discriminatory ads, online ads pose a...
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About the Author

Alvin Chang is a graphics reporter for Vox Media.

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