Giving to social and racial justice causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement is on the rise– especially among donors of color. And these donors tend to give more to strangers in need, too. That’s according to a new study conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the nonpartisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. In a survey of more than 1500 people conducted in fall 2020, the researchers found that growing percentages of people within communities of color support social and racial justice causes, with 30% of Asian Americans, 19% of African Americans and 13% of Hispanic Americans donating to social and racial justice causes, compared with 12% of white people. Donors of color who fund charitable organizations also tend to give informally, the survey found. For example, donors of color were more likely than typical white donors to say that they give money and goods to their relatives and friends. Notably, says Una Osili, a professor at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and one of the study’s lead authors, the survey also showed that African Americans are the most likely to give to strangers of all racial and ethnic groups. Also, with the spike in anti-Asian racism resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Osili says, many in the Asian American community are turning to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and to established charities to fund efforts that tackle discrimination and help stop hate crimes, she says. For example, the Asian American Foundation, which just launched in 2021, says that by mid-year, its funding had exceeded $1 billion – demonstrating how donors of color use the power of giving to fight racial injustice.
In other news, what really happens on Facebook after you click that “thumbs up” to “like” something? Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok rely heavily on AI algorithms to rank and recommend content, explains Indiana University computer scientist Fil Menczer. These algorithms maximize engagement by taking what we “like” and ranking it at the top of our feeds. But research by Menczer and IU colleagues reveals that virtually all web technology platforms, such as social media and news recommendation systems, have a strong popularity bias, which can lead to unintended consequences. The IU researchers ran a recent experiment using a simulated news feed like those of Facebook and Twitter. Participants in the experiment saw a mix of current articles from fake news, junk science, partisan, and mainstream sources. They got points for sharing or liking news from reliable sources and for flagging low-credibility articles for fact-checking. The researchers found that participants were more likely to like or share and less likely to flag low-credibility articles when they saw that many other users engaged with them. Humans are prone to follow the “wisdom of the crowds”, Menczer says, but it’s false to assume that recommending what is popular always promotes high-quality content, because our social desire to conform distorts our independent judgment. One way to avoid this pitfall, he says, would be to slow down the process of spreading information by inhibiting automated liking with CAPTCHA tests or fees. This would not only decrease opportunities for manipulation, Menczer says, but would also decrease the amount of information we see, allowing us to pay more attention. It would also help, he says, if social media companies adjusted their algorithms to rely less on engagement to determine the content they serve you.