08:31 GMT +322 January 2020
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    A tweet regarding the racist tones of Google image search results of “unprofessional hair styles at work” has gone viral, though many have now noted that the results are at least partially due to articles and Pinterest boards denouncing anti-black bias in the popular definition of professionalism.

    A tweet by user @BonKamona, showing side by side “unprofessional” hairstyles for work versus the results for “professional” styles has received almost 11,000 retweets. The unprofessional criteria were all black women, while the professional results featured almost entirely blonde white women.

    The tweet sparked outrage over possible racism within the algorithms that produce the results.

    Other tweets countered that the screenshots were misleading, because most of the images were largely lifted from thoughtful discussions on the issue of black women being discriminated against, due to their hair.

    Still, as Andrew Leung wrote for Mic, “The argument that the images are being used in a positive light is beside the point; the very existence of these types of articles and social media posts illuminates how black women are discriminated against in the professional sector because of their 'natural' hair.”

    Google later responded to the discussion, claiming that the problem is not with their algorithm, but with society.

    “This is fundamentally a societal problem — there are persistent and problematic biases, and they’re quite pervasive in the media, on the web, etc – meta-tagging their images with their own descriptions. Search engines in turn reflect what’s on the web. This is not unique to our search engine; Yahoo! and Bing show similar results,” a Google spokesperson told Metro.co.uk.

    “We welcome feedback and we’re always working to improve our search results. As a company we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures — these search results do not reflect Google’s view on the matter.”


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