Modern Day Suppression

Today people say that racism is disappearing. Technology is subliminally racist in ways that people may not even notice it unless it is directed towards them. My Dad would always say be careful what your saying you never know who you may upset with your words. So then doesn’t that mean that everything is racist in a way if it is seen in the wrong way by someone? Before the internet was invented people had to advertise by word of mouth and advertisements in the newspapers Google and other search engines like yelp can be racist in ways that will only be seen if your looking for it. A Hairdresser that may have thrived in the racist free environment with less technology is not going to be as successful because of the algorithms that are implemented in these different applications. “prior to the changes the Internet brought about, I never had to do much advertising because my name carried weight through the campus and the graduate school.” (173) As a black Hairdresser some of the racism that may occur online is you may not get the front page or get the same attention as other hairdressers that may be privileged. Websites like yelp are if you pay for the better representation you will get it; so, whoever pays more will get more. But that’s not always what happens. It seemed a bit unfair to Kandis the hair stylist because when she first started her business it was all about if you do your job well then people will come via word of mouth but nowadays you have to pay to be put on the top of the search page or you have to have some kind of gold membership so you get more views on your website. Kandis said “The algorithm shouldn’t get to decide whether I exist or not.”(175) this furthers my argument when I said that if you were good at your job then you got the recognition that you deserved, not because you signed up first or paid more money for your account.

              Google today is starting to monopolize our ideas with what is shown to us via the internet. The need for competition is important for our society to become less racist. If you look up martinlutherking.org it will show up as a neonazi white supremist support website known as Stormfront. If google had many more competitors, they would have to fix their algorithm, so it was fair for everyone to use and things like Martinlutherkingjr.org would be what they are said to be. Google hasn’t affected me or offended me personally, but I support everyone having equal rights and equal opportunity in life to succeed.

-Ryan

Questions:

Do you feel like information is suppressed to you now more than ever?

Do you use other search engines besides google for different questions you have in order to get an unbiased answer?

9 Replies to “Modern Day Suppression”

  1. Hi Ryan,
    I agree with you that as the internet has progressed the racism inherent within online algorithms has only gotten worse. Whether it be Kandis’ trials with Yelp or finding discriminatory websites where you would not expect to find them. These kinds of misleading sources lead to unwelcome biases within the sphere of the internet.
    I am very guilty in using only Google for searching purposes. Google has established itself as the main and most reliable search network and like many people, I have fallen susceptible to it. It is quite convenient and easy to use, and up until very recently, I had no idea about the discriminatory practices of sites like Google.
    I think we, as a society, have a tendency ignore such biases if it will get in the way of the things we enjoy using. As I said, Google is easy and conveinent, and it is all too often that we ignore the things that are truly important all for the sake of convenience.
    However, I do believe that if other search engines like Bing and Yahoo were to become more prevalent, Google would be forced to become more responsible for their faulty algorithms. They would be provided with competition, which would cause them to please the audiences rather than the advertisers.
    If we have learned anything from this reading, it is that we must make moves to create a sense of accountability for the discriminatory and racist practices of the internet, especially those present in search engines.

  2. Hi Ryan!

    This reading and your post was so interesting to me. I am good friends with my hairdresser (she is caucasian) and she was become very popular for her work via Instagram. She is a upper middle class white woman who is in many ways privileged. My friends have told me they have seen her come up on their instagram popular pages and I am very sure this has to do with instagrams algorithm.
    I myself rely completely on google and before this class I never gave it any thought as to if it was racist. Now, with this information I plan to use it more critically.

  3. Hi Ryan,
    Your post was very intriguing and I must say I agree with most of the outlooks you have. There is a common narrative in contemporary society that racism is disappearing, or already has. However this is far from the case and this discourse itself and the ignorance it displays it what allows for racism in our technologically driven society. Today racism is prevalent through a lot of the algorithms due to the mindset of the people who have designed them. It is important to spread information on the prevalence of racism in review websites like “Yelp” which target the poor because it is a financially corrupt system. We need to level the playing field and allow for socio-economic mobility by shifting the power from the upper class to the misrepresented and the marginalized.

  4. Hi Ryan I really like all the points you made in your blog post. I think Noble’s work is very eye opening. I never even thought of information being suppressed, or other groups of people not getting the same informations as other until we discussed it in class. It make me think more about what search enjoy I use. I don’t feel like information is suppressed to me at all. I am a white woman therefore I feel like I am not the one that search engine like google are affecting. It makes me think about other people who are maybe lower close, or a different race then me. I can’t even imagine how this might even effect people. It make me think about how some people might struggle do to the suppression of information. I use google everyday. It mainly use it because it’s easy for me to find answers in just a click of a button. I don’t even remember the last time I didn’t use google. I think I am going to make more of an effort to use other search engines, but that also makes me think about are other search engines actually better than google? Are they also racist and discriminatory towards other social classes. I feel like we need experiment more with search engines in order to see the types of sources they give us.

  5. Hi Ryan, I enjoyed reading your blogpost about how technology is racist in ways that individuals aren’t mindful of unless it is directly towards them. Safiya Umoja Noble talks about how misrepresentations of minorities have been expressed in search engines and those search engines have been interwoven into American culture (171). She further states how algorithms will continue to be relevant and hold power due to the marginalism of minorities. As you stated, the author identifies another Yelp which demonstrates a lack of identity control. In addition, in the text, Kandis states how due to the deteriorating conversation her name slowly started dying down. This demonstrates that many individuals don’t communicate anymore and there is a lack of conversation. Nowadays, business is solely based off of technology and not verbal communication. In result, Kandi became a minority in a way that she had never experienced before. Safiya Umoja Noble states, “I think algorithms don’t take into consideration communities of color and their culture of trusting the web with our personal information and that we are dealing with things that won’t even allow us to give someone a review… And just because I don’t have reviews doesnt mean that I have no value. .” (175). Kandi also insinuates that search engines such as Yelp are redefining who is valuable and where the value lies due to whether or not they have a review online which is unfair. Therefore, this demonstrates that just because there are no reviews about a certain place doesn’t mean the place doesn’t hold any value. In addition, the web tells people who is valuable. I think with an increase of access to information online there is also an increase in withheld and skewed information available to the public. The lack of choices in search engines and emphasis on Google has left me limited for the majority of my life. I think most internet users do not realize they are at the mercy of whatever information Google chooses to make available to them.

  6. Hi Ryan,
    I really liked how you started your blog post by referencing something that your dad says to you. It’s like the saying “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, words do hurt. And, search engines like Google and Yelp can hurt someone just as much as if it was being said to ones face. How are we supposed to know what’s right and what’s wrong though? Of course, we use our good judgement as best as we can when it comes to what people say or which sources to use off of the internet, but sometimes you really do not know. This makes me think of your discussion question about unbiased answers through different search engines. Honestly, I do not think I have ever used anything else besides Google. This is because we have grownup in an age where Google is highly popular. Even in my high school, besides our own online library, we were told to look up articles on Google to support our essay topics. We are TOLD what to use and now that we are out on our own, how are we supposed to know which search engines to use or which articles are strictly unbiased?

  7. Hi Ryan,

    I really liked how you mentioned the pay-to-play aspects of search, especially on sites like Yelp with a clear profit motive, and Google, which we tend to think of as more neutral and less out to make money out of their search engine. When Noble asks us to reimagine what the internet could look like, and specifically what searching on the internet could look like, she reimagines that suppression of information which you mentioned in your question. I do feel like information is being more suppressed because we’ve come to have a higher expectation of access to information. Noble writes “When using a digital media platform, be it Google Search or Yelp or some other ranking algorithmic decision’s default settings, it is possible to believe that it is normal to see a list of only a handful of possible results on the first page of a search,” (490 ebook), and if curating the best and most accurate content has to be left to an algorithm, because it’s not always realistic to look for answers to an urgent problem in the same way you would look for an answer in a library database, then that algorithm should be equitable and culturally-aware. If the goal is no longer profit but instead accuracy, then having an algorithm like Yelp’s, that sees “Black hair” as a color and not a type of hair, is unacceptable because it’s inaccurate and blind to other cultures. Rather, the current algorithm is assuming that it’s okay because it isn’t relevant to those who are the majority and those who have the most money to spend.

  8. Hi Ryan,

    I really liked your post, I think it’s really good that you’re able to bring in examples from your own life. It’s important that we can make connections like that especially when talking about sensitive subjects like these. I definitely think that information is suppressed especially now more than ever. Looking at the statistics in the book and our discussions in class there’s no way that it can be ignored. I now understand more the flaws that there are with the internet and search engines. I don’t use different search engines but that’s mostly because I don’t know a good authentic one. If there was one would I switch though? That’s hard to say since we are all so used to using Google at this point. I think an interesting thing to think about is that if as a society we all switched to a different search engine, would that engine also turn out as google has due to the rise in use? Would they also just turn to search engines? How do we fix this problem overall?

  9. Hi Ryan,
    I like many of the points you made here in your post. I especially like the comment you incorporated into your blog, that said, “The algorithm shouldn’t get to decide whether I exist or not.”(175). This speaks volumes to the issues we’ve been talking about in class and in previous blog posts and facilitations. If a minority group isn’t being discriminated against online, then they are moved to the bottom of the search results, out of sight from what most viewers will scroll down to. To answer your question, I do believe that information is highly suppressed. Sometimes in ways that seem more discreet than others, yet still suppressed nonetheless. Not only that, but information can be altered and tailored to specific ideas and advertisements, that influence not only racist ideals, but also the types of information we receive. Occasionally, I do use other search engines to fact check or to look for different sources of material. However, couldn’t we argue that almost all search engines are racist in some way or another?

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