His Profane Tweets About the Apple Card Went Viral

And are leading to a probe of Goldman Sachs' credit card practices
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2019 12:10 PM CST
His Profane Tweets About the Apple Card Went Viral
In this March 25, 2019, file photo, Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, speaks about the Apple Card at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif.   (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

David Heinemeier Hansson says his wife has the superior credit score. They file their taxes jointly. And while the tech entrepreneur didn't provide any other personal financial information, he did disclose an alleged financial injustice on Thursday. In a series of tweets that have continued through Monday, the Ruby on Rails creator wrote that he was given an Apple Card credit limit 20x higher than his wife's—only to be told the "algorithm" was to blame and that the problem wasn't Apple's but Goldman Sachs'. "Dozens" of others chimed in with similar allegations of gender discrimination, reports the Washington Post, and the New York Department of Financial Services is now looking into Goldman Sachs' credit card practices, reports Bloomberg. Some of Hansson's standout tweets, plus more:

  • "The @AppleCard is such a f---ing sexist program. My wife and I filed joint tax returns, live in a community-property state, and have been married for a long time. Yet Apple's black box algorithm thinks I deserve 20x the credit limit she does. No appeals work." (here)
  • "I’m surprised that they even let her apply for a card without the signed approval of her spouse? I mean, can you really trust women with a credit card these days??!" (here)

  • "Hilarious how much mansplaining is flowing in this thread. Every single poster questioning my wife’s credit score, a man. Every single defense of Apple blaming GS, a man. Almost like men are over represented in the defense/justification of discrimination that doesn’t affect them?" (here)
  • "[My wife] spoke to two Apple reps. Both very nice, courteous people representing an utterly broken and reprehensible system. The first person was like 'I don’t know why, but I swear we're not discriminating, IT'S JUST THE ALGORITHM'. I s--- you not. 'IT'S JUST THE ALGORITHM!'." (here)
  • "If we simply roll over and accept credit assessment algorithms and inputs to be proprietary and secret, we will have authorized and condoned all sorts of discriminatory practices that can thrive when bias is left to live in darkness. That is simply not right." (here)
  • "Great example of how algorithmic bias ends up gendered in its discrimination. What percentage of homemakers' do you think are women? If they're unable to rely on shared wealth, household income, or historical earning power to demonstrate ability to repay credit, they're cut off." (here)
  • "This also makes it all the more disappointing that Apple has failed to comment. They just pass all responsibility to GS. Imagine if you had to call Foxconn yourself when your iPhone broke? If it says Apple on the box, it’s an Apple product. Own it." (here)
  • Who else claims to have experience the same treatment? None other than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. On Saturday he tweeted, "The same thing happened to us. I got 10x the credit limit. We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though. It's big tech in 2019."

  • A rep for the New York Department of Financial Services said their investigation will "determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex."
  • CNN provides some context, reporting that the Apple-Goldman Sachs effort was hailed as one that would give credit-card access to "consumers that might otherwise struggle to access credit, including those with no credit history or below-average credit scores. But these allegations highlight the challenges inherent in letting artificial intelligence" act as decision maker.
  • In that vein, the Post notes that because said algorithms "are programmed by people" they "often reproduce human biases, unintentionally or otherwise, resulting in less favorable outcomes for women and people of color."
  • In a Medium post, NY DFS superintendent Linda Lacewell writes, "But this is not just about looking into one algorithm—DFS wants to work with the tech community to make sure consumers nationwide can have confidence that the algorithms that increasingly impact their ability to access financial services do not discriminate."
  • CNBC quotes a rep for Goldman as explaining that the root of the problem is the individual-only nature of the card. Since joint accounts are not permitted, "your application is evaluated independently," he said, which makes it "possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions." He says Goldman is looking into ways to permit family members to share a card.
(More Apple stories.)

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