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.
— Rosalia (@BonKamona) April 5, 2016
The tweet sparked outrage over possible racism within the algorithms that produce the results.
— Monka✌ (@MalumDube) April 5, 2016
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.
— Liv Wiggum (@LimmeMonnie) April 6, 2016
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.”