Racist Algorithm: Chimp Appears When Searching Google for ‘Black Person Scrolling Instagram’
A tipster informed Big League Politics that the viral video of a chimp appearing to scroll through an Instagram feed is the top result when users search “black person scrolling Instagram” on the popular search engine, and two Big League Politics journalists independently confirmed the findings.
While the left loves to find racism under every rock, it appears Big League Politics may have found an actual example of racism. A reader informed us that when searching for “black person scrolling Instagram,” the viral video of a chimp appearing to scroll through an Instagram feed using a smartphone was the top result.
Two Big League Politics colleagues, this journalist based in the Midwest, and another based on the East Coast, independently confirmed these findings.
Big League Politics recorded the search using screen recording software so it could be preserved for posterity.
The recorded search results can be seen here:
[bc_video video_id=”6030399234001″ account_id=”5766826440001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” mute=”” width=”100%” height=”100%” ]
It was replicated on other computers as well:
It was also replicated using a smartphone:
It is unknown how Google’s algorithm made this racist mistake, but in 2018 Google admitted that it “fixed” part of its algorithm that mistakenly identified black people as “gorillas.”
Back in 2015, software engineer Jacky Alciné pointed out that the image recognition algorithms in Google Photos were classifying his black friends as “gorillas.” Google said it was “appalled” at the mistake, apologized to Alciné, and promised to fix the problem. But, as a new report from Wired shows, nearly three years on and Google hasn’t really fixed anything. The company has simply blocked its image recognition algorithms from identifying gorillas altogether — preferring, presumably, to limit the service rather than risk another miscategorization.
Apparently Google’s attempt to solve this issue was unsuccessful, or at least partly.
The platform also blamed an algorithmic game of chance for the reason President Donald J. Trump is often shown in embarrassing or unflattering photos when users utilize the search engine’s “Image Search” to find photos of the president when speaking to Congress late last year.
Regardless of the cause of the overtly racist search engine results, Big League Politics hopes Google will work quickly to fix this issue.
Big League Politics sent an inquiry to Google about these results. A representative replied that
“This is a very rare query and combination of words (“Instagram”, “person”, “scrolling”), and there is a lack of relevant content on the web that matches this query. Similar results appear in video search for the query ‘white person scrolling Instagram’. We apologize for any concern this may have caused, and we will continue to improve our systems to return the most relevant results possible.”
This response would seem to generate more questions than answers: Why would Google include search results including animals, specifically a chimp, when users are clearly search for “people”? It seems as though one of these words must have triggered the search engine to display the results, and the key words used to obtain the results would seem to indicate the pertinent words were “black”, “Instagram”, and “scrolling”.
We have reached out to Google for additional clarification.