Incident 19: Sexist and Racist Google Adsense Advertisements
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Advertisements chosen by Google Adsense are reported as producing sexist and racist results. In a 2015 Carnegie Mellon study, 17,370 fake profiles were created to visit jobseeker sites, the profiles were shown around 600,000 advertisements. 1,852 male profiles received advertisements for high-paying executive jobs and career building while only 318 of the female profiles were shown the advertisements. Companies are allowed to filter who is shown their advertisements, which is attributed to this difference in male/female outcomes of advertising. In a separate instance, Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney released a 2013 study showing how black identifying names, when searched in Google, are more likely to return advertisments involving arrests. When testing 2,000 racially-sensitive names, black identifying names returned advertisements using the word "arrest" 81-95% of the time, while white identifying names did so 0-9% of the time. All of the ads were from www.instantcheckmate.com, implying, again, the company's choice of who to target their advertising toward played a factor in the discriminatory results.
Advertisements chosen by Google Adsense are reported as producing sexist and racist results.
Harm Distribution Basis
Harm to social or political systems, Harm to civil liberties, Other:Reputational harm
AI System Description
Google Adsense, an algorithm used to target advertisements toward relevant audiences.
Sector of Deployment
Information and communication
Relevant AI functions
Perception, Cognition, Action
Google, Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, www.instantcheckmate.com
Google, Instant Checkmate
Advertiser's preference, Google user's search history, Google user's purchase history
A Google search for a person's name, such as "Trevon Jones", may yield a personalized ad for public records about Trevon that may be neutral, such as "Looking for Trevon Jones?", or may be suggestive of an arrest record, such as "Trevon Jon…
Frequently Asked Questions
- Isn't the arrest rate of blacks higher anyway?
The ads appear regardless of whether the company sponsoring the ad has a criminal record for the name. The appearance of the ads are not related to any arrest stati…
In 2013, Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney found that racial discrimination pervades online advertising delivery. In a study, she found that searches on black-identifying names such as Revon, Lakisha, and Darnell are 25% more likely to be s…
Image caption Prof Sweeney said technology could be used to counteract racial intolerance
A study of Google searches has found "significant discrimination" in advert results depending on the perceived race of names searched for.
“Have you ever been arrested? Imagine the question not appearing in the solitude of your thoughts as you read this paper, but appearing explicitly whenever someone queries your name in a search engine.”
Screenshot of a Google ad.
So begins …
Pop a name into Google and you're likely to end up with corresponding advertisements alongside your results. Wild guess which types of names are more likely to yield arrest-related ads suggesting that the person searched for has a record.
Names typically associated with black people are more likely to produce adverts related to criminal activity, according to the Harvard University paper .
A Google search for a name such as Tom Smith may bring up personalised public records,…
Google accused of racism after black names are 25% more likely to bring up adverts for criminal records checks
Professor finds 'significant discrimination' in ad results, with black names 25 per cent more likely to be linked to arrest recor…
Ads pegged to Google search results can be racially biased because of how certain names are associated with blacks or whites, according to a new study.
Harvard University professor Latanya Sweeney found "statistically significant discrimina…
Is Google biasing the ads it serves up based on whether a name sounds "black"?
That's the conclusion of a paper by Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney, who wrote in her paper that searches on names that may be identified as black brought up a…
Readers, I hate it to break it to you, but according to Harvard the internet is racist. I suggest you stop using it immediately unless you want your patronage of Google et al to blacken your name. Actually, err, maybe wait until you finish …
The Google search page appears on a computer screen in Washington on August 30, 2010. Ads pegged to Google search results can be racially biased because of how certain names are associated with blacks or whites, according to a new study.
Every job candidate lives in fear that a Google search could reveal incriminating indiscretions from a distant past. But a new study examining racial bias in the wording of online ads suggests that Google's advertising algorithms may be unf…
A Google search for a "racially associated name" is more likely to trigger advertisements suggesting the person has a criminal background, according to a study by a Harvard professor.
Latanya Sweeney, a professor of government and technolog…
February 6, 2013
'Arrest' Appears With Greater Frequency in Ads Featuring 'Black' Names
The delivery of Google ads has significant racial bias, according to a study by a Harvard University professor.
Professor Latanya Sweeney says names tha…
Web page results of ads that appeared on-screen when Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney typed her name in a google search. Ads featured services for arrest records. Sweeney conducted a study that concluded searches with "black sounding" name…
Is Google’s search algorithm guilty of racism? A study by a Harvard researcher found that it could be.
Professor Latanya Sweeney says she found "statistically significant discrimination" when comparing ads served with results from online se…
A lovely little piece of research that shows that the ads served up alongside Google searches could, if you were that way inclined, be seen as somewhat racist:
A recent study of Google searches by Professor Latanya Sweeney has found "signif…
UPDATED: February 20, 2013, at 10:35 a.m.
A Harvard researcher has found that typically African-American names are more likely to be linked to a criminal record in Google-generated advertisements on the online search engine and on the news …
The January/February 2019 issue of acmqueue is out now
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April 2, 2013
Volume 11, issue 3
Discrimination in Online Ad Delivery
Google ads, black names and white names, racial discriminat…
Latanya Sweeney, Racial Discrimination in Online Ad Delivery
Comment by: Margaret Hu
Published version available here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2208240
Workshop draft abstract:
Investigating the appearanc…
Season 4, Episode 2
When Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney Googled her name one day, she noticed something strange: an ad for a background check website came up in the results, with the heading: “Latanya Sweeney, Arrested?” But …
That Google and other companies track our movements around the Web to target us with ads is well known. How exactly that information gets used is not—but a research paper presented last week suggests that some of the algorithmic judgments t…
Female job seekers are much less likely to be shown adverts on Google for highly paid jobs than men, researchers have found.
The team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon built an automated testing rig called AdFisher that pretended to be a …
When Timnit Gebru attended a prestigious AI research conference last year, she counted 6 black people in the audience out of an estimated 8,500. And only one black woman: herself.
As a PhD candidate at Stanford University who has published …
It seems like everyone is talking about the power of big data and how it is helping companies, governments, and organizations make better and more efficient decisions. But rarely do they mention that big data can actually perpetuate and exa…
Google’s search algorithms expose racial discrimination, a new study by Harvard professor purports. It claims ads related to criminal records are more likely to pop up when "black-sounding names" are ‘googled’.
Latanya Sweeney, Professor o…
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