Fixing Discrimination In Online Marketplaces

by MR Magazine Staff

The first generation of online marketplaces, including eBay, Amazon, and Priceline, made it hard for sellers to discriminate. Transactions were conducted with relative anonymity. A user could negotiate a purchase without providing any identifying information until the seller had agreed to the deal. As a New Yorker cartoon famously put it, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Except that platforms—and now their users—do know whether you’re black or white, male or female, human or canine. And the internet has recently been revealed as a source of discrimination, not an end to it: With their identities uncovered, disadvantaged groups face many of the same challenges they have long confronted in the off-line world, sometimes made worse by a lack of regulation, the salience photos give to race and gender, and the fact that would-be discriminators can act without ever personally confronting their victims. What happened, and what can we do about it? Read more at Harvard Business Review.