Revisiting Human Touch In the Age of Artificial Intelligence:

The article published by the NY Post centers around the lack of sensitivity of ad posting by Google. In a recent event, Havas, a global advertisement company, filed complaints on Google allowing Havas’ clients’ ads to appear on videos consist two men carrying an ISIS flag.  Besides Havas, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, JP Morgan, etc.. are sufferers of this issue as well, prompting them to ” pull their ads from Google’s platforms [YouTube] in the US.”

The article then goes on about the prominent role that Google has on launching advertisements for companies, stating that Google “controls 41 percent of the $83 billion US digital ad market” whereas Facebook has 14.7%. It is interesting how the article compares the proportion that Google and Facebook have in digital advertising. In your opinion, given Google’s recent failure to satisfy its commercial clients’ interest, will this be an advantage for Facebook to thrive on in a popularity contest against Google? Furthermore, will this incident on Google incentivize the tech industries to hire more data scientist in order to control which ads show up on what streaming videos and websites?

Some might argue YouTube and other search engines are just platforms for all forms of information to be presented and that it is up to the users to make their own judgments about the materials found since the Internet embraces freedom of speech and information, what is your thought on this rhetoric?

The article stands out in that it provides details about immediate Google’s response toward this incident. What else about this article would you like to see more of? Should the statistics about Google’s role on digital advertising be pushed more toward the beginning on the article?


11 Responses to “Revisiting Human Touch In the Age of Artificial Intelligence:”

  1. Hi, thanks for picking this article and doing the blog post this week. I had no idea this was happening. For your questions, I don’t think it will cause Facebook to thrive, but it’s an interesting thought. Hopefully, this problem will lead to the employment of more data scientist. I think even if this were not a problem, we would still see the increased hiring of data scientist trend to continue, just because it seems like the logical next step in the industry.

    I think it is fair for users to be able to make their own decisions and know that they might see some things they don’t like. Personally, I didn’t really see the problem but if companies think that their bottom line or client satisfaction will be hurt by this type of advertising, I also think it is in their right to pull their ads from google.

    I was also thinking of the placement of data as I was reading through the article. The nut graph seemed like it was pretty far into the article, but I thought it was perfect because the author really made sure that the reader understood what the problem was, and what was happening.

    One final thing I noticed was that I thought the author did a great job of remaining unbiased.

  2. Hey,

    Google operates on a massive school in terms of the data they get from search history and pages visited. This obstacle of being able to build a more sensitive approach to advertising is definitely a very difficult task to regulate because the internet has so much content. As Google attempts to fix this issue, I think it will really give us more of an insight into the inefficiencies that exist with automation. Another thing about improving targeted advertisements that needs to be considered is the need for monitoring of consumer/user activities. Many advertising firms place ads based on a users search history or clicks, which can infringe on user privacy. I think the article does bring up a very interesting point about how many of these tech giants are turning from media companies to publishing companies and should shoulder the responsibilities that publishers have. I agree with this thought process because many of these tech giants serve as a source of information for numerous people and I feel like this is a necessary step to establish credibility. I felt like the article could’ve done a better job at introducing the problems earlier to give readers a scope of the issue. I think that the internet is definitely a difficult area to monitor, and moving forward as a society this is a necessary conversations that needs to be had.

  3. Hi Quan, great article this week! I was really surprised to learn how large of a market share Google has in digital advertisement. It seems that they should take a greater responsibility in the way that they present ads. Although I believe we should embrace free speech, I do not think that its realm applies to algorithms. It does not appear to be a choice to pair an advertisement with offensive content but instead a coincidence. If the individuals at Google believe that they have made a valid pairing then they are entitled to that protection.

    I also thought that the flow of the article was effective and that new points and perspectives were constantly being incorporated however I do not think that all of the photographs were necessary. While they broke up the article into segments, the generic photographs of the heads of Google did not extend my understanding of the issue. I did wonder however if the author intentionally chose a photograph of Matt Brittin with a confused expression above his remarks.

  4. Hi Quan, thanks for choosing this article! It was very interesting and brought a super important issue to light. I do agree with you and many of our classmates that the nut graph was a bit low in the article. However, I also agree that it seems quite necessary to give all of the background first, thus the placement works. I do not agree about the photographs, though. While they may not be as “action-y” as the ones we are encouraged to include in our features, I did think they worked for the article. They showed the faces of people high up at Google, faces that we may not always see. I liked the examples of the ads, as I had not personally seen any of these ads. Lastly, I found the final photo of the eye with Google in the reflection quite artistic and compelling, as it seems to be symbolic of how omnipresent Google is in our lives (cheesy, I know).
    I agree with Sarah, too, that the author did a good job of remaining unbiased and it seemed like she did a great job of collecting multiple viewpoints.

  5. I agree with the sentiment of the article: ads should pop up on relevant media. If I were an ad company like Havas, I would be upset if my ads were being placed on irrelevant content. This would obviously decrease the amount of traffic that the ad generates. There is no question in my mind that Google needs to improve their ability to attach ads alongside relatable content.

    What is more interesting to me, however, is that animal rights “extremism” was placed together with Anti-Semitism and ISIS. To me, this is an absolute joke. I went to view the video and was shocked. Not because it resembled “the Internet’s most active hate mongers,” but because illegally freeing animals like dogs from research facilities was compared to terrorism. While I agree that this activity is illegal based on our current social constructs, there is hardly a comparison between rescuing animals and ISIS.

    Here is a quote from the lede:

    “Another, for Walmart, sat atop a masked man crouching with fierce dogs.”

    What a joke! These dogs have lived in cages and been experimented on all their lives.

    Of course, this class is on journalism, not ethics, so I’ll leave it at that. I agree that an “animal liberation” video may not be an appropriate place for a Walmart ad, but to categorize this video under some of the most vile ideologies in the world is laughable.

  6. Quan:
    Thanks for such a great blog post. You definitely honed in on an important topic that has been a focal point of the news this past week. I especially like your catchy, attention-grabbing headline. And speaking of headlines, I’m going to include an observation about a topic you didn’t discuss in your blog post: the headline of the article you critiqued. The New York Post is known for its rather sensationalistic headlines. This one: After a worldwide advertising boycott, it’s time for Google to face up to its responsibilities, sounded like the article would be an editorial. But in reading the piece, I actually thought it was thorough and well researched and was not a biased opinion piece. Typically, reporters don’t write their own headlines. I wonder if the person who wrote this actually read the article in detail. I wonder what the reporter thought of that headline. It seemed more designed to drive traffic rather than to accurately reflect the subject of the piece.

  7. Thanks for this post – and great discussion so far. I think this article has a good mix of facts, statistics, and quotes. Quan raises one of the central debate probed by this article: are companies like Google merely content-hosting platforms, or do they have a larger responsibility to censor and monitor this content’s distribution? I think that if advertisers are paying Google, Google does have some responsibility to ensure that these advertisements are appropriately placed. However, this can get into some tricky judgement calls, bias, and discrimination, and I worry about Google making those subjective decisions. It reminds me of the debate about Facebook’s role in spreading fake news and how it has responded by making these types of stories harder to share ( This type of power and discretion makes me a little nervous… What do you all think?

  8. I was shocked to learn that Google controls nearly half of the digital ad market, and that makes this overall discontent with their ad content displays significantly more serious. I actually thought the kicker was the most interesting part of this story–the fact that one of the global leaders in technology is stuck in the persisting disconnect between human empathy and the limits of artificial intelligence. Where will we be when artificial intelligence can begin to calculate human empathy and clashes in company values displayed in ads on a YouTube video? Regarding your question about Facebook rising up against Google, I do not think this will happen due to the fact that there have also been lawsuits and complaints about Facebook as a tech company taking political stances with their advertising placements. This is an interesting problem and I’m curious to see how these tech leaders address and solve the problem of supposedly insensitive advertising.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with you Aaron. Grouping both organizations together seems to try and trick readers into believing this sort of issue occurs all the time. Of course, it should never happen, but I bet it happens much more infrequently than the article suggests. Providing a more accurate representation of the material would have been a better approach in this piece, rather than trying to distort the reader’s perception of the issue.

    Many of us have to understand that this issue cannot be fixed overnight. Hiring additional data scientists can take months, especially given Google’s extensive hiring process. As Manny said, the amount of information that Google dissects is enormous. It would take a serious increase in manpower to help screen all of the content that is published through Google. Furthermore, it seems that Google has now decided to alter their algorithms in order to detect messages that can be seen as harmful. Machine algorithms that Google uses take time to adjust. As more data is fed into the model, it starts to understand what content can actually be deemed “harmful”. Consumers and ad agencies must have patience when working with Google to allow these algorithms to become more perfect. Pulling all ads from google, in my opinion, is a knee jerk reaction that will cause more harm than good for companies due to the enormous potential of consumers that can be reached through the platform.

  10. Hi Quan, thank you for this post. Like Julie, I was initially skeptical when I saw a New York Post article with another catchy headline. But this article was in-depth, analytical, and highly explanatory. This dilemma brings up an important discussion about the freedom of the internet, and I think the New York Post did a great job exploring it. I have my doubts, however, whether this specific dilemma will bring that discussion into major public focus. I think people are willing to accept a lot about the internet, because to many the internet’s beauty comes from its lack of limits. I for see greater resistance to internet censorship than to potentially offensive ad placement.

  11. Thanks for sharing this article, it was very interesting and something I knew hardly anything about. I am not sure that people would favor Facebook over Google, especially because I think facebook has its faults as well. I would like to believe more data scientists would be hired, but the article implied that even with that being done, there still may be mix-ups like this. I thought this article did a good job choosing quotes. For example, my favorite quote was “They’ve always maintained they were sort of digital engineers standing there with their digital [wrenches], trying to tighten the nuts on their digital pipes and not being responsible for the content that was going through the pipes,”because this was just so not something the author could write on his or her own. It painted an awesome image and also made clear the frustration he was feeling about Google.

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