A recent study of Google searches by Professor Latanya Sweeney has found “significant discrimination” in ad results depending on whether the name you’re Googling is, statistically speaking, more likely to belong to a white person or a black person. So while Googling an Emma will probably trigger nothing more sinister than an invitation to look up Emma’s phone number and address, searching for a Jermaine could generate an ad for a criminal record search. In fact, Sweeney’s research suggests that it’s 25% more likely you’ll get ads for criminal record searches from “black-identifying” names than white-sounding ones.
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