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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  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • SAB_Guest

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

  • 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.

  • SAB_Guest

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

  • 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.price.wa 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.

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