Incident 53: Biased Google Image Results

Description: On June 6, 2016, Google image searches of "three black teenagers" resulted in mostly mugshot images whereas Google image searchers of "three white teenagers" consisted of mostly stock images, suggesting a racial bias in Google's algorithm.

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Alleged: Google developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Minority Groups.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
53
Report Count
18
Incident Date
2016-03-31
Editors
Sean McGregor

CSET Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

On Jun 6, 2016, 18 year-old Kabir Alli pointed out how Google image searches of "three black teenagers" versus "three white teenagers" differ, with the former presenting results mostly consisting of mugshots and the latter mostly consisting harmless, smiling stock pictures. Reactions on social media suggested that Google's algorithms presented racial bias.

Short Description

On June 6, 2016, Google image searches of "three black teenagers" resulted in mostly mugshot images whereas Google image searchers of "three white teenagers" consisted of mostly stock images, suggesting a racial bias in Google's algorithm.

Severity

Minor

Harm Distribution Basis

Race

Harm Type

Harm to social or political systems

AI System Description

Google Images is a search engine system that generates results based on machine learning and user input and data such as the popularity of the image, how frequently it is shared, context such as text around the image, and meta-tagging.

System Developer

Google

Sector of Deployment

Information and communication

Relevant AI functions

Perception, Cognition, Action

AI Techniques

open-source, machine learning

AI Applications

image classification, search engine, content filtering

Location

Global

Named Entities

Google

Technology Purveyor

Google

Beginning Date

2016-06-06T07:00:00.000Z

Ending Date

2016-06-06T07:00:00.000Z

Near Miss

Unclear/unknown

Intent

Accident

Lives Lost

No

Data Inputs

user input, images

Barstool Sports

Barstool Sports

barstoolsports.com

Missed Connections: What search engines say about women
safiyaunoble.files.wordpress.com · 2012

On occasion, I ask my university students to follow me through a day in the life of an AfricanAmerican aunt, mother, mentor, or friend who is trying to help young women learn to use the Internet. In this exercise, I ask what kind of things …

Is Google Racist? Search 'Three Black Teenagers' Vs 'Three White Teenagers' & The Images Might Shock You: True Or False?
antoinespeaks.co.uk · 2016

What is the difference between the image search results when a person types “Three Black Teenagers” into google and then types “Three White Teenagers”?

Some people found the results disturbing and some people are calling google racist; Watc…

Google "Three Black Teenagers" vs. "Three White Teenagers" - See the Problem?
mic.com · 2016

On Monday, Twitter user @iBeKabir learned that searching the phrase "three black teenagers" on Google images yields almost exclusively mugshots of black teens.

Curious, @iBeKabir says, "Let's just change the color" and swaps out "black" for…

Google "Three Black Teenagers" vs. "Three White Teenagers" - See the Problem?
ca.news.yahoo.com · 2016

On Monday, Twitter user @iBeKabir learned that searching the phrase "three black teenagers" on Google images yields almost exclusively mugshots of black teens.

Curious, @iBeKabir says, "Let's just change the color" and swaps out "black" for…

Man compares Google searches for ‘black teenagers’ and ‘white teenagers’
metro.co.uk · 2016

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

A man compared the results for Googling ‘Three black teenagers’ and ‘Three white teenagers’ – and the results have ignited debate…

Googling "Three Black Teens" vs. "Three White Teens"
ebaumsworld.com · 2016

A video shows image search results where the only difference in the search is "white" versus "black". In the first case stock photography is returned, while in the second, mugshots are returned.

inquisitr.com · 2016

When one searches a stock photo website like Shutterstock for “three black teenagers,” photos like the one above of three cute black teenagers by a photographer dubbed “Logo Boom” show up. Perhaps Google Images should take notes from the st…

Google Image Search For ‘Three Black Teenagers’ vs. ‘Three White Teenagers’ Is Outrageously Offensive
sickchirpse.com · 2016

A Google image search is going viral on Twitter as it’s said to highlight the pervasiveness of racial bias and media profiling.

A dude named Kabir Alli posted this clip on Twitter of himself carrying out a simple search of ‘three black teen…

Google Image search for 'three black teenagers' vs 'three white teenagers' causes outrage
dailymail.co.uk · 2016

Google image search 'three black teenagers' and then 'three white teenagers'.

A Twitter video of a man typing in this supposedly unremarkable search has gone massively viral since it was uploaded yesterday afternoon.

That's because his clip…

'Three black teenagers' Google search sparks Twitter row
bbc.com · 2016

Image copyright Google images

What happens when you type: "Three black teenagers" into a Google image search?

Twitter user @ibekabir reposted a video showing someone doing just that, and thousands of social media users responded - because m…

'Black teenagers' vs. 'white teenagers': Why Google's algorithm displays racist results
splinternews.com · 2016

The short answer to why Google's algorithm returns racist results is that society is racist. But let's start with a lil' story.

On June 6 (that's Monday, for those of you keeping track at home) Kabir Alli, an 18-year old in Virginia, posted…

The ‘three black teenagers’ search shows it is society, not Google, that is racist
theguardian.com · 2016

This week Twitter user Kabir Alli posted a video of him carrying out two specific searches on Google. The search for “three white teenagers” produced smiling and happy generic images of white teenagers, while the search for “three black tee…

Search 'three black teenagers' on Google and this is what you see
washingtonpost.com · 2016

What you need to know about AMI, the company Jeff Bezos says tried to blackmail him

'Three black teenagers' Google Image search sparks racism row
sbs.com.au · 2016

A Google Image search which reveals starkly different results for 'three black teenagers' and 'three white teenagers' has sparked anger on social media.

'Three black teenagers' was trending on Twitter this week after 18-year-old Kabir Alli …

Google faulted for racial bias in image search results for black teenagers
washingtonpost.com · 2016

If you searched for “three white teenagers” on Google Images earlier this month, the result spat up shiny, happy people in droves — an R.E.M. song in JPG format. The images, mostly stock photos, displayed young Caucasian men and women laugh…

Barstool Sports
barstoolsports.com · 2016

And just to make sure it’s not some sort of algorithmic Google search that only this guy is seeing:

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 11.00.47 AM

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 11.01.15 AM

Okay I’m sorry but those three dudes in the white teenagers pic …

Bias already exists in search engine results, and it’s only going to get worse
technologyreview.com · 2018

The internet might seem like a level playing field, but it isn’t. Safiya Umoja Noble came face to face with that fact one day when she used Google’s search engine to look for subjects her nieces might find interesting. She entered the term …

When White Supremacists Target the Black Elderly
nymag.com · 2018

Gregory Bush is arraigned on two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. Bush fatally shot two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store Wednesday and was swiftly arrested…

Variants

A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.

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