Nowadays, Google is a search engine that individuals often turn to under the notion that the information on the site is factual and yield search results that do not marginalize any group in particular. Most people are unaware that the information that appears on the website is a reflection of the users beliefs and that society still holds a variety of sexist ideas about women and stereotypical views about people of color. This means that the search engine is not the only issue but it serves as a platform to encourage negative outlooks on marginalized populations. Moreover, internet users who are searching on Google are the problem and minority groups are the ones who reap the negative consequences.
Safiya Umoja Noble discusses what we see and when we see it on the search engine which represents Google’s algorithmic conceptualizations of a variety of people and ideas as a whole. Google is coupled with algorithmic practices of biasing information which is a reflection of advertising interests. This partnership and influence with advertisers makes search results inherently biased. Noble writes, “Deep machine learning, which is using algorithms to replicate human thinking, is predicated on specific values from specific kinds of people, namely, the most powerful institutions in society and those who control them.” (29). In turn, powerful people control what is produced and shown to the public for their own benefit. Often when people in power benefit from large companies like Google minorities, whether social, political, or economic, suffer and are left behind. The search results found on Google are rarely called into question and due to this most internet users have no idea how these ideas come to dominate search results on the first page. The public believes that what rises to the top of the search results is either the most popular or the most credible or both which is not always the case. It is such a scary thing to learn that Google creates advertising algorithms and not informative ones. An example in Safiya Umoja Noble includes when she discusses how Google represents women as incompetent, dependent on men, or underrepresent in the workforce. As a result, this demonstrates how the content and representation of both women and women of color in search engines is consistent with the kinds of biased ideas that live in other advertising channels. These misrepresentations become part of the cycle of oppression of already marginalized groups.
The search engine as a whole, reflects notions that are often resisted by women and people of color. Throughout this reading I have learned how Google is an intersectional power that accounts for the ways in which marginalized people are exponentially harmed by Google. Black women and girls continue to have their image and representations assaulted in the new media environments. This perpetuates the oppression and inequality that ravages underrepresented communities like women and people of color. Another interesting aspect of this article is the internet and its general association with freedom and individual choice. When search engines like Google are further analyzed in this book Noble discusses the internet is a hub of organized and scheduled content that is presented at the will of the creators and controllers of these resources.
Instead of targeting and oppressing minorities, black women especially, it would be more beneficial to empower them to not only bring new perspectives and diversity into the tech world but also to reach a broader audience of people in a positive way. These accepted norms become so ingrained in society that people generally disregard the possibility for change. And with that mindset, these seemingly unavoidable stereotypes impacted populations vulnerable discrimination.
- How can women and people of color benefit from becoming programmers and building alternative search engines?
- How might those who are of color ever be able to influence or control the way they are represented on Google?
- How can people of color/ women be misrepresented online? How can this lead to other consequences?
- How can teachers educate students how to look past immediate search results to find resources that are uncommonly used but still credible?