Google Shows You Interracial Couples if You Search for White Couples, Here’s Why

If you were to type in “black couple” on Google’s image search, you would end up seeing a wide variety of couples who are, in fact, black. However, if you search for “white couple” on Google, what’s going to end up happening is that you are going to end up seeing couples that are interracial, which means that only one of the partners will be white. Many users have been very offended by this, saying that this shows Google’s true agenda, which according to them is race mixing.

Apart from the obvious racist undertones of the backlash around these search results, the reason that this happens is actually quite understandable. Google’s very own Danny Sullivan, who was tagged in a tweet related to the matter, decided to put rumors to rest by explaining why this happens. Apparently when someone uploads a picture of a white couple they don’t use any racial keywords. Basically, white couples are just described as “couples” whereas images of black couples are usually captioned as such. The only time the word “white” tends to get used when describing the couple is when it is an interracial couple, and since Google’s image search looks for keywords it ends up showing you images of interracial couples when you might be looking for a white one. Searching for a couple shows you mostly white couples, which in and of itself shows a racial bias among the users of the internet rather than Google.
Related: Internet Search Hacks - How to Find Almost Anything on Google [infographic]
However, one thing that we can understand from this is the fact that Google’s image search might need to be revamped. We are living in an era where technology is becoming increasingly practical, so this non-intuitive bias is a sign that Google’s Image Search feature might need to be updated.

Google Clarifies Why Some Image Search Results Look Racist
Photo: SIPA USA/PA Images

3 comments:

  1. I call BS on you Mr. Sullivan, making the following statement: "The only time the word “white” tends to get used when describing the couple is when it is an interracial couple, and since Google’s image search looks for keywords it ends up showing you images of interracial couples when you might be looking for a white one."

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  2. The reason why this is clearly false is that performing the same search on bing returns a much higher number of white couples (still way more mixed couples than a search for black couple returns). That being said, I don't think it is evidence of an agenda, I think that it is pranksters gaming the system and leveraging Googles algorithms against them "for the lulz". However, when this happens for more incendiary or insensitive things (like autocomplete for "black people are..." returning offensive racist things) they are inclined to do something about it, whereas in this case they aren't motivated to fix it. That DOES say something about Google, although I'm not sure what exactly.

    Sidebar, this isn't the only instance of this sort of thing that can be seen on image search - for example, do a search for "African" and then a search for "European".

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  3. What a bunch of BS. If any of that were true, then the other results would also show the same type of bias. They do not.

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