Cybersecurity firm White Ops rebrands as 'Human' amid tech's reckoning with race
Ad-focused cybersecurity company White Ops is changing its name to Human, in a move that reflects tech's ongoing reckoning with race and racism—including the use of terminology with racist connotations.
In a statement, the company said the move “more authentically represents Human's values, its employees (which they have always referred to as 'humans') and the digital community it protects.” Human helps prevent ad fraud, particularly by focusing on sophisticated digital marketing bots that can inflate impressions and skew perceptions of ad effectiveness. The company announced the change this morning.
The tech industry has long used terminology with racist roots: terms like “master” and “slave” to define circuit control, or “blackhat” and “whitehat” to describe hackers as malicious or ethical. Such usage has recently been under growing scrutiny as race and racism become central to turmoil and discussion in the U.S., with many advertisers and agencies pledging to fight racial injustice and inequalities.
Human first announced it would reconsider its name in an October 2020 blog post written by CEO and Co-Founder Tamer Hassan. “The name White Ops represents something different than what we’ve intended,” he wrote. “It perpetuates a toxic association of good and bad with color and race.”
In the blog post, Hassan acknowledged that some of the people consulted about the decision felt changing the company name was unnecessary “because we should see past it,” and says he used to share that perspective as well. However, Hassan wrote that “current events have brought a sharp and painful realization home for me, one that cuts deeper than I wanted to admit. Those of us who felt this way were able to hold that value only because we haven’t been faced with the damage of ongoing racism personally and directly.”
Chief Marketing Officer Dan Lowden said the company reviewed thousands of potential names but kept returning to Human, a name that “best reflects our company’s journey and captures the unique characteristics of our culture and values.”