Facebook's new avatars "represent who you are" — unless you're Blind.
The devs exploit screen reader detection at launch to hide the avatar maker from Blind Voiceover users.
This encoded bias is frictionless, fast and enacted without consent.
Why would a dev use their accessibility knowledge to encode discrimination?
By launching first FB and then VO, i note that the avatar maker has a mix of labeled elements and ones awaiting labels.
So one (doomed) motive might be hiding the proverbial homework to avoid criticism.
Sometimes devs hide a feature because they think the stock experience will be pointless or hard for us to use.
I hope there's not a coder out there who thinks Blind people will have trouble selecting our facial features from a list,
but i've heard wilder things from sighted devs.
Why am i theory-crafting? Why don't i know?
Because, like other dark design patterns in accessibility,
this one was deployed with no explanation, no recourse, no accountable human being and no care for our involvement or consent.
Excluding us from the avatar maker is comically awful:
cute cartoon representation for every body, except ours.
But screen reader detection can be exploited to curate whether we see any type of content: think education, housing ,jobs.
Barring us from any digital asset is wrong.
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