Many people have accused Google of being racist. If you’ve ever tried to search for something using Google, you’re familiar with Google Instant, which is an algorithm that uses previously searched items to try to figure out what you may be searching for. Here are some search results that come up with Google Instant:
In addition, Research conducted by Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney indicates that ‘black sounding names’ are more likely to be accompanied by an ad that advertises an arrest record. In Latanya Sweeney’s case, when she googled her name, search results came up revealing that she had been arrested…the kicker is that she’s never been arrested. This ordeal caused Sweeney to start research of her own and she discovered that traditionally black sounding names are more likely to be associated with a criminal record. Read more about Sweeney’s study here.
What’s even more disturbing than these search results is the fact that they are the product of commonly searched items…so it isn’t the Google algorithm that is racist but we, the people, who have projected our racist thoughts into Google and taught it everything that it knows. The internet, like a child, learns racism. No one or thing is created as a racist…racism is a learned act. The first step is teaching ourselves how to UNLEARN…then we can start to modify and reverse our own biases.