Code, Trans Theories

Algorithms of Oppression

The other day I was reading Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble and she mentioned how Google searches for “Black Girls” brought up racist and sexual content of black girls when she was writing this book. This has been since fixed up and now searches for “Black Girls” brings up positive confirming and empowering results.

This got me thinking, what happens when you search for “Asian Girls” on Google or Bing? Unfortunately I have learned that the algorithm tweeks that Google and Bing made doesn’t apply to a search for “Asian Girls”

Here is the search results from Google.

While here is the search results from Bing.

These are obviously not nearly as bad as the porn that came back when Safiya searched for “Black Girls” but it is still shocking how sexually explicit these search results are and that neither Google nor Microsoft has stopgap measures to prevent sexual search results from coming up without it being explicitly searched for.

As software developers we need to do better about making sure our algorithms don’t enforce the oppression of the world that we live in.