Algorithms of Oppression : How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Algorithms of Oppression : How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

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Algorithms of Oppression : How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

A revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms Run a Google search for "black girls"-what will you find? "Big Booty" and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in "white girls," the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about "why black women are so sassy" or "why black women are so angry" presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society.

In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online.

As search engines and their related companies grow in importance-operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond-understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance. An original, surprising and, at times, disturbing account of bias on the internet, Algorithms of Oppression contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.

 

Why It's on The Cornrow

Safiye Umoja Noble deserves her flowers for this book. A fascinating look at the way "algorithms"- those nebulous things we usually think of as being more helpful and harmful, can end up reinforcing some dangerous tropes and stereotypes. Recently shouted out by Meghan Markle - a woman who has had more than her fair share of sexist and racist insults thrown at her, it's interesting to consider how some of these views are reenforced without us even realising.

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