Racist Google searches?

It’s tough to imagine computers and robots and electrical wiring being racist but a Harvard study has found “significant discrimination” in advertising results depending on the perceived race of the name you search for. Names typically associated with black people produced more ads related to crime. Searches for white names would be harmless.

That would be, um, racist. The study, done by Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney, found that names that are perceived as more black (Kareem, Leroy and Keisha) were 25% more likely to have advertisements that read ‘Arrested?’ from a website that does criminal record checks than names that weren’t black. Those other names (Brad, Luke and Katie) just had ads for websites that offer generic contact details.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • jualwindowsoriginal

    It’s because their algorithm should be fixed

    • z


  • Robert12Disqus

    i’m for reality – if most of the crime in america is being perpetrated by a certain race, then it is what it is. whining about it won’t change anything, if that race is particularly bothered by such news, then they should determine to police its own until the facts change, but until then, facts are facts. so take the time to check out the facts at government websites on crime and know too that even with the statistical lies (specifically under reporting), the facts are overwhelming in such areas i find sad such as black-on-white crimes for decades, more recent flash mobs, kill whitey gangs, and sucker punching some innoncent white walking who is simply walking by some blacks bent on some revenge for some past wrong… just because the press doesn’t report it or identify the race such as in “teen” flash mob instead of “black” flash mobs, does not make it any less real.

    • JohnDoey

      > facts are facts

      There isn’t a single fact in your comment. Just ignorant ravings you pulled out of your ass, which is located in the center of your face.

      • Robert12Disqus

        hmmm… a reply by someone ignorant of fact, and even worse – unwilling to go check out what i said factually before blathering one’s lack of mental acuity across the planet. what a troll…

        • Tamara Hurt

          There was nothing I found a FACT regarding your rant. It reeks of ignorance! As I stated in an earlier post below, majority of the blacks commit petty theft crimes. Whites on the other hand crimes range from invasion of occupied land, violence & torture, stealing, over inflated gas prices, national debt, stealing from social security, lies, conspiracy, ponzi scams, child abduction, child molestation, rape, to white collar crime (stealing employees’ pension) and more!!! You’re right when you stated, ‘about crime in america is being perpetrated by a certain race, then it is what it is!’ Yes, it’s your people! An undisputed FACT!!

          • John Trollston

            How about we send you over to the middle east and see how you like it there. You’ll see what abduction, violence, torture, molestation and rape is all about. So shut the fuck up you ungrateful peon. PS all those crimes, that actually are commited over there are not by whites, you small brained slut

          • SAB_Guest

            But the crimes she mentioned committed here are mostly by whites, you gaping abused a$$hole. :)

          • Robert12Disqus

            I hear crow is best eaten when warm – so given your comments that I’m replying to, be sure to eat your crow as quickly as possible – especially since there is so much of it.

            The report name is: The Color of Crime – Race, Crime, and Justice in America, by the New Century Foundation, Oakton, VA 22124
            Years 1999 and 2005 are the ones I retain.
            Judging by the new Knockout Game by blacks on Whites in the cities, I can only logically conclude the report is woefully inaccurate today with even higher black on white crime occurring.
            Anyway, not sure it will help you as you have a problem actually thinking, but just in case I missed something reading your idiotic blathering, here is the URL for the 2005 report: http://www.colorofcrime.com/colorofcrime2005.pdf

            Try to work your lazy self into actually doing some research instead of blathering on and ensuring people know how stupid your really are.
            Also, you lack research skills, which is probably exacerbated by your cranial racist infarction that is evidenced by your mind numbing commentary.

            There are so many facts regarding black on white crime that the only additional crime is why the mainstream media does not report it.
            And we won’t even get into your ignorance of fact as trying to reason with fools is a bridge to nowhere…

          • SAB_Guest

            How many blacks stole hundreds of thousands of peoples pensions and retirements? How many blacks are guilty of those crimes?

            The fact is most Americans would rather be punched, than have their life savings taken.

            But you can get back to being a racially oriented fvckface.

    • KeyPerception

      Just because a certain race is “known” for crime doesn’t mean other races don’t do it. Never underestimate anybody. Statistics only generate their information on who gets caught, not on who got away with it. I know this for a fact because I went to an all white school where the white girls would steal and rarely got caught because the store staff trusted them more, but would look at me and I never stole from that store. These girls were stealing brand new Nike’s, gold jewelry and other high ticket stuff but the store staff would watch me only. In school, everyone knew to go to the white girl for stuff b/c they knew she wouldn’t get caught and they knew it. Some races are just more sloppy with their crime. Just my opinion!

      • Robert12Disqus

        good point. at work people can gaff off all day but since people like them because they go around talking to everyone and making them laugh they get away with not doing much to little of anything and yet get retained while those who work their time with minimal breaks and what not get the middle finger come hard times. crazy world we live in…

      • el diablo

        LIAR!!! YOU, KeyPerception, I call you a liar. YOU “went to an all WHITE school where THE WHITE GIRLS would steal and rarely got caught because the store staff trusted THEM more, but would look at ME and I NEVER STOLE FROM THAT STORE. If it was an all white school that you went to why would the staff trust them but look at you? Are you not white? Then how was it an all white school? And I love how you keep writing WHITE GIRL. Everyone knew to go to the WHITE GIRL for stuff. You, you scunt are a LIAR & RACIST. I also like how you had to point out the fact that YOU NEVER STOLE FROM THAT STORE. You’re a thief to boot, just never stole from that store. You are a lying racist chicken head. How many baby daddy’s you gots yourself? Are you on the dole yet? Get off your high on crack horse and wake up, maybe try and contribute something to society besides a rap song, another baby or increasing the statistics for crime and unwed mothers, you piece of garbage.

        • betty boop

          U ARE A COMPLETE MORON!!! You cannot even comprehend a simple paragraph.. Maybe you should remove yourself from social media ya IDIOT!!

  • Greg Webster

    When you purchased ads through Google’s system (which I have done many times), you are allowed to pick specific keywords for which your ad will be displayed. I could pick “sayanythingblog” as a keyword and have my advertising be about breaking free of crack addiction. The fact that this is happening has little to nothing to do with Google, and almost all to do with what their advertisers are choosing for keywords.

  • JeMash

    If you feel demeaned when someone calls you a ‘black’ or ‘white’ your a bigger racist than him. Your discriminating between races in this article. Your a racist.. Google is just posting the facts! #GrowUp @Je_Ma_Sh

    • Robert12Disqus

      i don’t feel demeaned when someone calls me white – it’s that cracker work or gringo word that is annoying. so i don’t think someone should feel demeaned simply for who they are. seems to me the culture of blacks has many songs using the derogatory “n” word between and among themselves but don’t let a white say that same word or else. again that double standard – it is what it is. maybe jesse jackson can get to work cleaning up the filth in his own ethnic group before ranting about other ethnic groups. then again, there’s plenty to blame on both sides of the ethnic groupies so it seems the best advice for me and everyone else out there is to ask the question, would we want to be treated like we’re treating others? i’d like to start with the knockout game proponents and if they say yeah then we knock ‘em out so they know how it feels. then head on over to those people seeing it happen and just sitting around doing nothing about it both inside the black culture and outside…

      • Tamara Hurt

        I totally agree with you about the filth but Jesse has nothing to do with what’s being said. He is not the owner of any record label. The WHITE MAN is! The owners are whom you should contact! I believe you’re saying there’s no filth in your neighborhood? If you answer my question as no then you’re either a. naive, b. blind or c. ignorant or d. all the above!

        • SAB_Guest

          Or a race baiter. I’m going with race baiter.

  • Queen Mennon

    I suppose if I were of the white race, who has and continues to perpetrate most of the criminality in this world, try to place the blame for crime on other races. Look, people are not stupid. they know who the worse criminals on the face of the earth are and they know that they are not people of color.

    • John Trollston

      The people who belive that would have to be pretty stupid :)

      • Tamara Hurt

        How are those that believe Queen considered stupid? Just by you opening your mouth prove you failed History class and most likely received a GED & totally said the hell with college! Moron!

        • John Trollston

          Tamara, clearly you are black so It’s guaranteed you’re the one who, at best, has a GED, though that would surprise me. I didn’t know KFC had wifi

          • SAB_Guest

            This blog is created by a white dude who promotes the notion that degrees are a waste of money and not needed, then complains that women are graduating college by a larger percentage over men…in a 95% white state. But…..what ever you need to pretend you are superior, racist.

  • John Trollston

    Maybe it’s because black people, who have those names, are more likely to commit crimes. Google is just keeping it real.

    • Tamara Hurt

      If Google is just ‘keeping it real’ then the exposure of dirt should be equal! Majority of the blacks commit petty theft crimes. Whites on the other hand crimes range from invasion of occupied land, violence & torture, stealing, over inflated gas prices, national debt, stealing from social security, lies, conspiracy, ponzi scams, child abduction, child molestation, rape, to white collar crime (stealing employees’ pension) and more!!! Now that’s ‘keeping it real…..John!!!

      • John Trollston

        You just wish you were white, I can understand the jealousy. Poor thing, michael jackson felt the same way, and look how he turned out!

  • brianpadraig

    I think this reveals more that the justice system is racist and Google’s algorithms have reflected that fact. statistically black ppl are more likely to be arrested and especially to be convicted and given harsher sentences, and thus more likely to need such advertisements–the explanation for that fact is not that black people are more likely to commit crimes but that the justice system is more likely to get them for it. all you need to do is look at the statistics on the “war on drugs” to prove the point–white ppl use drugs just as much as black ppl, but the contexts of those drugs results in a targeting of black drug use.

  • Jim Price

    There is no evidence that Google is being racist in this case. People simply don’t understand how Ad Words works.

    The algorithm first presents the ad with different wording (“arrested”, “graduated”, “married”, etc.) rotated at random each time the ad is shown. Only when people begin to click on the ads, does one wording become more likely to show.

    Therefore, Google’s algorithm is not racist, people using Google (and clicking on these ads) are racist, or are responding to the ads differently along racial lines.

    Perhaps Asian people are more likely to laugh off the suggestion that they were arrested, because they do not have a history of being harassed by the police, while an equally innocent black person might be worried that a false arrest record existed under their name.

    Not saying this is what is happening, just saying that there may be more than just simple racism at work.