There is no question that there is racist or problematic information easily accessible on the internet. But is the internet itself biased? To answer this question, I think it is important to think first, about who the system was designed for, and why. Originally, the world wide web was designed to consolidate all of the worlds information, to eventually benefit all people, but would primarily benefit those who could even access it. These people were the wealthiest members of the world who could afford or at least access computers. The next thing to consider is how is the information searched for organized? Generally speaking, search engines organize results by popularity. Therefore, what you will see in search engines like google, will be representative of the majority, not the minority. This means that specific smaller communities might have a harder time than members of a white community, finding information specifically pertinent to them. However, I would argue that the internet is becoming less and less biased as it is becoming more and more specific. Because of the efforts of advertisers to remain significant and a part of the lives of the people who make up their market, we have seen a larger effort to personalize the internet to the individual. Search results and ads are tailored to your searches and interests. With these new advancements we notice less and less bias on the basis of race or popularity, because now, companies don’t care about the masses, they care about you.

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2 responses »

  1. taliatrilling says:

    Something that I think is interesting to consider in light of your argument is that one’s individual searches and use of google and other web browsing is often used by google to pinpoint and label someone as being a part of a specific demographic, regardless of whether or not this classification is accurate. So on one hand, we are all getting results that have been so-called “personalized” for us, but google may think that based on our habits and interests we are actually someone else, generalizing us to shallow interpretations of who people are (and generalizations that may at times be rooted in harmful stereotypes). Beyond the fact that some people might see this as an invasion of privacy, I am amused by how often the predictions tend to be entirely off.

    FMI: http://gawker.com/5879895/how-old-does-google-think-you-are

  2. doriebailey says:

    In this same vein, one of the scariest things about advertisers knowing so much about us is that the content and ads we are shown only further perpetuate the understanding they have of us: that is, the more we click on content that contains certain kinds of ideas and positions, the more of that content we are shown, limiting the space for differing opinions to be read and narrowing our focus without any outside perspective.

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