Google ads for Blacks suggest criminal records

Occurred: February 2013

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Research published by Harvard University's Latanya Sweeney has found that Google ads are rife with racial discrimination, and may have an actual or potential impact on job seekers.

The 2013 study found that a Google search for a 'racially associated name' such as DeShawn, Darnell and Jermaine, is 25 times more likely to trigger adverts suggesting the person has a criminal background.

The ads were delivered by Google's AdWords system, which determines which advertisements appear based on keywords, advertiser bids, and user behaviour.

What is less clear is whether the results are due to Google's system, people and organisations buying online advertising, or racism in society as a whole.

Operator: Alphabet/Google
Developer: Alphabet/Google

Country: USA

Sector: Business/professional services

Purpose: Deliver advertising

Technology: Advertising management system
Issue: Bias/discrimination - race; ethnicity

Transparency: Governance