According to a Harvard University study, advertisements pinned to Google search results can display as racially biased due to certain names being associated with black or white people.
Latanya Sweeney, a professor at Harvard University in the United States, found “statistically significant discrimination” by comparing advertisements and their online search results. The study used names such as “Ebony” and “DeShawn” and compared them with the names like “Geoffrey” and “Jill”.
Furthermore it was found advertisements together with their search results for names that may commonly belong to black people had a tendency to suggest criminal activity while searches using commonly white names brought neutral advertisements to the surface.
Sweeney said the findings beg the question of whether societal racial bias is exposed through Google’s advertising technology as well as ways in which advertisements and search technology can develop to ensure racial fairness.
However, Google defended the the advertisements and searches saying the results are driven by advertisers’ decisions.
The recent study was funded partially by the United States independent government agency, the National Science Foundation, together with a grant by Google.