Our high-tech world might not look like The Jetsons, but we're pretty damn close. We carry mobile erotica encyclopedias in our pockets and spend our leisure time getting casually murdered and sworn at by teenagers from Vladivostok to Montevideo. Yes, we live in a time of miracles, but some of those miracles are shittier than others. We're talking about such modern conveniences as ...
7Airbnb Hosts Are Able To Totally Screw Over Black People
If modern technology is a runaway locomotive hurtling toward the future, then Airbnb is the Snowpiercer car that all the hobos are sleeping in. With an estimated 60 million people using the site, it's currently one of the most popular ways to borrow someone's home ... unless you have a name that suggests you possess a bit more melanin, that is.
In a study conducted by Harvard Business School, several thousand hosts in cities such as Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., were sent messages inquiring about reservations. These messages were sent from 20 fake profiles, half of which had "typical" white names such as Meredith and Todd, and half of which had "typical" black names such as Rasheed and Jamal.
No profile used "Chad," since that asshole would get deleted on the spot.
The results? The profiles with white-sounding names received positive responses to their inquiries 50 percent of the time, compared to only 42 percent of the time for profiles with black-sounding names -- a finding that held true even when variables such as age, sex, and property type were taken into consideration. In fact, some hosts were so determined not to host black people that when the researchers later followed up to see whether they were ever able to fill the room, over a third hadn't (losing them an average of $65 to $100 per night). Owners would rather lose money than rent their homes to fake black people.
Meanwhile, the only reliable indicator of whether someone was likely to respond positively to a black respondent was whether or not they'd previously hosted other black people. This finding was later dubbed the world's first scientific proof that, yes, having black friends does mean you're less of a racist.
Although you could argue that racists gonna race regardless, it's Airbnb's system that makes this sort of discrimination possible. Other services, such as Expedia and Priceline, mask the identities of applicants, leaving hosts with the ability to choose guests based only on criteria such as reviews and profile ratings. Someone even made a browser plug-in that allows Airbnb hosts the ability to anonymize profiles and remove any unconscious bias, although it's hard to imagine this taking off among the "racist property tycoon" demographic.
6Amazon Slashes Prices On Popular Items, Inflates Prices On Everything Else
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Amazon is great, isn't it? It's like the world's biggest supermarket of random bullshit. You want a wall decal of a middle-aged Asian man? They've got 'em. A Nicolas Cage pillowcase? Done. Of course, chances are you aren't turning to Amazon for an erotic novel about Leonardo DiCaprio being pegged by an Oscar statue. What you really want from Amazon is cheap stuff that you use every day.
"Don't tell me what I will and won't use every day, Cracked."
According to one analysis, Amazon routinely lowers prices on "big ticket" items, such as televisions and consoles and routers to insane levels that competitors can't. Not a huge surprise so far, but bear with us. When it came to smaller items, such as HD cables, these were marked up by up to 30 percent over the price of other comparable retailers. Meanwhile, in another test, it was found that while a popular brand of router was marked down considerably compared to other outlets, a less-popular brand was marked up by 29 percent.
So let's say Black Friday is coming and you want to buy a TV for your better half (the half of you that watches Downton Abbey.) Amazon will analyze which TV is getting the most views and then significantly lower its price so that it's way cheaper than the same brand over at Walmart. At this point you might be thinking, "GOTCHA, AMAZON!" Not so fast, partner. Because if you aren't going to do a price check on the other stuff you need to make your TV work, you're going to miss that Amazon made up for their losses on the cables.