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OMG That’s So Racist | Google Encourages Racial Stereotyping With Search Results

8 September 2009

Check this out. Even if the Google search software automatically produces the most commonly asked questions to fill in your blanks, it is still fully within the ability of their engineers to moderate this list, so that when “Why do Chinese…” is typed in, the first fill-in option isn’t “Why do Chinese have slanted eyes,” “Why do Chinese people smell,” and “Why do Chinese eat dogs.”



originally posted at the interpretive dance of Shawna X

It started with this:

Which led to…




And lastly,

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 September 2009 11:41 am

    it is still fully within the ability of their engineers to moderate this list

    Yes, but should they?

    I understand what you’re getting at, but “moderation” of such a list leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Do you think that moderation would cause people to stop searching for such terms? Google is just a tool, it’s the people who are racist.

    • Shiyuan permalink*
      11 September 2009 12:33 pm

      It’s not like Google doesn’t already exercise their editorial control over other aspects of their search engine. You get the impression that when you type something into the search box, like “Torrent Magazine,” what you get is a descending list of the top results for whatever you searched. But that’s not exactly true, is it? The algorithms that Google uses to calculate the search returns are notoriously secret – nobody knows exactly who decides what results show up first & for what reasons.

      Take “I’m Feeling Lucky” for example. Google describes the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button as giving you the option to skip the search results page & go directly to the first ranked page for that search phrase. But that’s not always how it works.

      Type in “French military victories” & hit “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Case and point here.

      Past uses of the ‘I’m Feeling Lucky” button to advance a political or social agenda:

      “Weapons of mass destruction” was linked to a page claiming “these weapons of mass destruction cannot be displayed.”

      “McDonald’s” was linked to the film Supersize Me, which was HIGHLY critical of McDonalds.

      “Jew” was linked to the Wikipedia entry on Judaism. This was done by Google folks in response to the original search results, which ranked an anti-semitic Web site as the top result. Google also placed a link to a statement at the top of the search results page to explain the results.

      If Google can link “Jew” to the Wikipedia entry on Judiasm so that an anti-semitic site doesn’t get as much traffic from Google search, it can CERTAINLY change the search drop down options so that “Why do Chinese have slanted eyes” isn’t the first option.

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