Google has responded to an act of misinformation about squatter camps or informal settlements in South Africa being dominated by whites in its search engine.
“Building a quality search experience is a complex, dynamic challenge, and we will never be finished,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed response.
“Because our systems are surfacing and organizing information and content from the web, search can mirror biases or stereotypes that exist on the web and in the real world.”
“We understand that this can cause harm to people of all races, genders and other groups who may be affected by such biases or stereotypes, and we share the concern about this,” the spokesperson added.
“We have worked, and will continue to work, to improve image results for all of our users.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Xolisa Dyeshana queried Google’s Algorithm with a simple request on Twitter: “Google ‘Squatter camps in South Africa’, go to images and see what happens.”
Please google “squatter camps in South Africa” and go to images. @Google when did this happen and why?
If you follow Dyeshana’s instructions, like many Twitter followers did, you will see a Google search that predominantly returns articles and images of poor white people. For more read: Why Google is showing you white South African squatters
This smells bad very bad , this is some sinister agenda to disturb the land debate. This is not a true reflection of squatter camps in south Africa @Google has to correct this. pic.twitter.com/ds2MymVPIV
— King. Tsoanelo Nkosi (@KingTsoanelo) June 13, 2018
Mail & Guardian reported that the reaction on Twitter had many questioning how the search results are selected with some suggesting that the algorithm was pushing the “white genocide” narrative and undermining the land debate.
He banna!!! pic.twitter.com/HG94pXpwIS
— KATLEHO (@KatlehoT) June 13, 2018