True.com Sent ‘Race-Customized’ Valentines

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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.

9 thoughts on “True.com Sent ‘Race-Customized’ Valentines

  1. Is it also wrong to track people by their age and use it as part of your decision process? Is it wrong to track people by their zip code and use it as part of your decision process?

  2. “I went to get a loan and they asked my race
    I wrote down human inside the space
    It`s a disgrace how they try to debase
    It ain`t the bank`s damn business how my lineage trace”
    -Beastie Boys

  3. I don’t see why it’s wrong to make advertising decisions on the basis of race. In fact, essentially everyone does this. There are TV shows whose audience is mostly black or mostly white, and the advertisers know this and tailor their commercials to it. The same is true of some magazines, some radio stations, some musical styles, some restaurants, etc.
    If it’s not wrong to selectively put commercials for products that sell better to blacks than whites on TV shows that are more watched by blacks than whites, then I guess I don’t see why tailored ads in e-mail or on the web are morally different. (That’s aside from the privacy issues, which are indeed kind-of creepy.) Similarly, “Ingles sin barrios” videos sell a lot better on Spanish-language channels than on English-language channels, and you’ll do better selling Chrismas cards with explicitly religious themes if you target self-described Christians than if you just try selling them to random passers-by.
    Offering people a different deal based on their race or religion seems much creepier, though I gather that happens informally all the time. There’s been a big discussion about the claim in _Blink_ that car salesmen “unconsciously” offer blacks a worse deal than whites. The common rejoinder is that the car salesmen know exactly what they’re doing, and have found through experience that they can often make the sale offering blacks a worse bargain than whites, just as they can offering women a worse bargain than men.

  4. I don’t see that tracking race can be wrong at all times – there has to be limits both ways. Otherwise, I would be denied my fetish for blondes or redheads. There are cultural norms in everything, where tracking blondes is good if its a dating agency, and not good if its an aryan race planning commission.
    When I lived in the Caribbean, I was continually afflicted with what was known as “the white man’s price”. E.g., lawn moving might be $50 for blacks, $200 for whites. In a way it is funny that whites have to pay over the odds for everthing there. But the joke is on the locals in the end, as they take it too far, and alienate the whites that might otherwise trust them by transferring know-how and technology. Piracy is generally a win-lose in a one-round game.

  5. BACKGROUND CHECKS AND DISCLOSURE = TRUE LIES
    Vest once again is trying to get lawmakers to pass his background check disclosure act in Illinois now HB5299. Vest exploits women, doesn’t disclose his own deceptive business practices and is hiding his personal background of abuse and womanizing. I believe Vest should be exposed because he is using our lawmakers to manipulate the industry and continues to exploit women while he lies to the public of his motivates in order to line his own pockets
    An online dating site called True.com which touts it’s self as the safer dating service and the owner Herb Vest is behind litigation to require all dating services to disclose if they conduct background checks should be investigated for date bait along with several other questionable business practices.
    Vest is being sued in Dallas, Texas by his former fiancee. The details of the woman’s case is very disturbing. Vest who is fighting to require background checks is now fighting to keep the detail affidavit by this woman seal. Vest sited it would damage his business and personal life.
    Some of the details includes Vest with prostitutes, Threesomes with lesbians. Several sexual harassment claims against Vest while at HD Vest, Inc. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
    Vest stated: In addition to screening our own members for criminal backgrounds, TRUE is doing everything it can to make the online dating community at-large a more wholesome environment for courtship – one that is free and clear of predators and criminals. In another statement The idea for True.com came from wanting to provide a “safe and wholesome environment for courtship,” Vest said.
    True is now turning it’s business to the sex trade. http://www.askmen.com has a contest to pick the hottest True girl. True.com’s exploitation of women in ads:
    http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com/columns/2005editorials/april2005.html
    http://www.calacanis.com/2006/01/13/should-we-run-these-ampd-ads-or-not/3#comments
    http://www.corante.com/dating/images/trueuglymodel.png
    In addition you may want to ask Vest about the following business practices.
    bloggers have posted claim they have seen documentation of fraud on the part of True. That is, ex-employees who claim that part of their job description was to pose as real people and keep people as members to motivate them to become paid subscribers.
    I think that this issue becomes even more pertinent in light of similar allegations currently against Match.com and Yahoo Personals. It is no secret that some “customer service” people that used to work at True are no longer there — and having left under curious circumstances. Vest/ HDVE could be compelled to release names of such ex-employees so they can be questioned about these allegations of fraud. Vest should also be questioned as to whether they have any knowledge of fake/bait profiles being used by True employees at the direction of Vest and/or any of the executive management to essentially deceive or defraud customers or potential customers.
    Secrets True.com doesn’t want made public!
    1. “Is the endorsement from Psychology Today an academic endorsement or a paid endorsement?”
    2. “You state on your site that you have a team of experts behind your testing/psychology services… who are they exactly and how do I get in touch with them in order to ask them what they specifically do for True and examples of recent work.” “Or, perhaps you (True.com) is overstating their roles as a marketing gimmick.”
    3. “It seems True has been busy altering the authorship of certain online articles in its online magazine from Dr. James Houran to “Psychology Department” — implying Houran is still a part of the psychology dept. and that True has an active psychology dept.” Why is it making these changes in authorship? Does the online magazine editor (Leah Gentry, formerly a journalist with the LA Times) endorse this practice?”
    4. Why has True.com not revealed to its customers that they no longer have the benefit of Dr. James Houran? He was arguably a huge value ad to the business and the welfare of the customers, yet customers are not told he is no longer with the company. True pushes for legislation requiring disclosure and yet they curiously are not disclosing that certain features/ benefits of the site are no longer part of the price of membership.”
    FYI: Dr. Jim Houran was fired in October and True is sueing him. True hasn’t disclosure that there are no experts on staff. Even the security expert is gone. The gimmicks True promotes it’s self with aren’t True!
    Also, Vest and his wife has broken their own rule : NO MARRIED PEOPLE ALLOWED. Screen names undermoose and fite both go into chat rooms. So True.com no married people can contact members isn’t True either.
    VEST OFTEN GOES TO THE CHAT ROOM TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON. MARK BROOKS IS ON THE PAYROLL FOR TRUE.COM. VEST USES MARKS BLOG TO PROMOTE HIS COMPANY AND USES A DIFFERENT NAME.

  6. I know how True.com is selecting various races for marketing. It is in the compatibility test and the other test.
    True.com is deceptive and is using it’s so class test to get your information and use it against you.
    The test are all misleading and another lie just like the so called background checks.
    True is ripping people off with their free 7 day trail too!
    True sent out to every race group ads for that group. ‘
    True.com is doing race profiling. If it is against the law for law enforcement it is against the law for True.com
    People should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report True.com for deceptive business practices.
    FYI: Don’t fall for the you have Winks. It is a tick by True to get you to paid to be a member and see who is contacting you. It is either a True employee or another deceptive tick that your location is matched to others in your area and True winks at members when a person signs up. This is happen a lot right now. You see a wink and contact that person and they have no idea who you are and tell you they didn’t wink either.
    DO NOT TAKE ANY TEST OR GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD TO THIS COMPANTY!!

  7. I know how True.com is selecting various races for marketing. It is in the compatibility test and the other test.
    True.com is deceptive and is using it’s so class test to get your information and use it against you.
    The test are all misleading and another lie just like the so called background checks.
    True is ripping people off with their free 7 day trail too!
    True sent out to every race group ads for that group. ‘
    True.com is doing race profiling. If it is against the law for law enforcement it is against the law for True.com
    People should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report True.com for deceptive business practices.
    FYI: Don’t fall for the you have Winks. It is a tick by True to get you to paid to be a member and see who is contacting you. It is either a True employee or another deceptive tick that your location is matched to others in your area and True winks at members when a person signs up. This is happen a lot right now. You see a wink and contact that person and they have no idea who you are and tell you they didn’t wink either.
    DO NOT TAKE ANY TEST OR GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD TO THIS COMPANTY!!

  8. I know how True.com is selecting various races for marketing. It is in the compatibility test and the other test.
    True.com is deceptive and is using it’s so class test to get your information and use it against you.
    The test are all misleading and another lie just like the so called background checks.
    True is ripping people off with their free 7 day trail too!
    True sent out to every race group ads for that group. ‘
    True.com is doing race profiling. If it is against the law for law enforcement it is against the law for True.com
    People should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report True.com for deceptive business practices.
    FYI: Don’t fall for the you have Winks. It is a tick by True to get you to paid to be a member and see who is contacting you. It is either a True employee or another deceptive tick that your location is matched to others in your area and True winks at members when a person signs up. This is happen a lot right now. You see a wink and contact that person and they have no idea who you are and tell you they didn’t wink either.
    DO NOT TAKE ANY TEST OR GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD TO THIS COMPANTY!!

  9. I know how True.com is selecting various races for marketing. It is in the compatibility test and the other test.
    True.com is deceptive and is using it’s so class test to get your information and use it against you.
    The test are all misleading and another lie just like the so called background checks.
    True is ripping people off with their free 7 day trail too!
    True sent out to every race group ads for that group. ‘
    True.com is doing race profiling. If it is against the law for law enforcement it is against the law for True.com
    People should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report True.com for deceptive business practices.
    FYI: Don’t fall for the you have Winks. It is a tick by True to get you to paid to be a member and see who is contacting you. It is either a True employee or another deceptive tick that your location is matched to others in your area and True winks at members when a person signs up. This is happen a lot right now. You see a wink and contact that person and they have no idea who you are and tell you they didn’t wink either.
    DO NOT TAKE ANY TEST OR GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD TO THIS COMPANTY!!

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