Reading Algorithms of Oppression

After finishing Academic Ableism, we have turned to reading Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble. In this book, Noble uses the lens of black feminism to critique the way Google displays and categorizes search results. The impetus for this book was her experience searching “black girls” on Google and the resulting search including porn as some of the first results that come up. Since then, Google has changed the algorithm so that this is less likely to happen. In the first chapter, she also discusses the problematic way that Google has displayed results for the word “Jew” in the past. When Google tried to fix this problem, they displayed results without informing people than certain results had been omitted. While this may prevent people from seeing antisemitism, it does not fully solve the problem. She then discusses how ads work and why this can be problematic as well. At the end of chapter one, she argues that “despite the widespread beliefs in the Internet as a democratic space where people have the power to dynamically participate as equals, the Internet is in fact organized to the benefit of powerful elites, including corporations that can afford to purchase and redirect searches to their own sites. “

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