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Sexism in Google Image Search

A simple google image search demonstrates the stereotypes produced and reproduced by tech. This video shows how an image search of Brazilian women almost 40% of the time displays images of young women in suggestive poses. In contrast, in an image search for german women, results of sexually suggestive content went down to 4%, and images were mainly of female politicians and athletes. It also suggests how in a search for Ukrainian women, an astonishing 60% of results are links to dating websites or websites with sexualized content. This short video calls us to question how AI and technologies like Google reinforce certain stereotypes and how this perpetuates a particular image of women.


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Rafay Abdul Razzaq
Rafay Abdul Razzaq
2022年8月07日

Wonderful insights Areej!

A lot of people have rightly mentioned the strong links this article makes with the concepts of Orientalism in the Muslim women reading and also themes from the 'urgency in visual media' reading. To take the conversation further, I was actually thinking about where this lets social media platforms position themselves in society. To my understanding, algorithm-based discrimination is then the most harmful.

On social media, people tend to show plenty of immediate backlash against people who do anything sexist or racist. Just like we've seen here however, technological mediums such as Google are mostly absolved of accountability and we see these artificial intelligences as unflawed, unbiased and - after the wave of scientific ascendancy in the…


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Thank you, Rafay, for your thought. As you mentioned, algorithm-based discrimination is the most harmful, but everything comes with its pros and cons. it depends on us as individuals and as a society how we perceive them or use these blessings of technology. As you mentioned, technology is also mislabeled .yes that is true, and we can't forget that these things are manmade and are also handled by them. I think there should be control over such things. This does not mean resisting the power or the freedom but maintaining proper decorum in society.

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This is a very interesting read. It reminds me of a digital tools class during last semester during which we explored the topic of programs and algorithms being effected by the biases of the people that create them. This happens at a conscious and a subconscious level which is why the solutions pitched were to have humanities students collaborate with technical/STEM students to help make programs that are accommodating of the nuances and weed out these biases.

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Thank you! I'm glad my post made you remind the lectures we covered. This post comes out of the content we have studied and such intricate issues and use of media outlets were what made me write this.

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Very cool observations! This was pretty reminiscent of how media has metamorphosed into a modern panopticon whereby people are surveilled and monitored 24/7. Why is it that all media platforms start showcasing the same products or problems we search on Google for? It is almost as if a multiverse is being cultivated where each idea is interconnected by a chain of other ideas, all of which interwine in several spaces across the internet.

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Exactly! It becomes concerning that how the very tool that is supposed to be in our hands actually has our data in its hands. The amount of interference media is making into our lives is now becoming unstoppable and problematic for many people.


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Interesting points Areej!

I believe that the result of this sexism and this stereotyping has an important (and mostly negative) impact on how women are seen and treated, making women from certain countries especially vulnerable. The stereotypes tend to misrepresent women, who are already subject to sexualisation through multiple other avenues. I am curious as to how these stereotypes in search engine results actually came to exist. Was it us, who fed Google's algorithm with our digital data about these women, or was it the workings of the Google algorithm and the results that it churns out, which became the cause of this negative stereotyping, sexism and unnecessary sexualisation of women?


Moreover, I think this is another important instance that…

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This reminds me of how the British constructed the narrative of the Orient as an exotic and oppressed people that needed white saviors to civilize them. Earlier the construction of this narrative was through books and journals written by authors and travelers who visited the these areas, and then it was perpetuated so many times that it became the only truth they know about us. Personal experiences while traveling are enough to know this is a harsh reality and the West conveniently views us all as uneducated, uncivilized, and a threat to order to stability and order.


However, with the age of internet, Google and social media constructing these narratives no longer takes hundreds of years rather even a few…


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Rafay Abdul Razzaq
Rafay Abdul Razzaq
2022年8月07日
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Interesting points Maryam! I totally agree with you and believe that this is the reason why the next form of narrative control is internet-based. Previously, powerful people purchased media houses or newspaper companies in order to influence narratives but slowly we've seen change. I think Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter symbolizes this phenomenon. I think his intentions behind the purchase are exactly to be able to sway narratives on a platform where he was already very popular. Why else does the world's richest person need another company to run?

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