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UN Women Google ad campaign exposes disheartening Internet searches

According to the Internet, Google must be a woman.

Why is that? Because the search bar tries to finish your sentence before you can even finish typing, just like a woman who tries to complete your thoughts while you are still talking. At least according to the Internet.

And it’s true. At least for the autocompletion portion.

If I type “co,” my search bar immediately pops up with the choices “comcast nfl network,” “commercial appeal” and “common app.”

But for some searches, Google suggests less politically-correct options.

Some searches, like “women should,” can turn up brow-raising results. Results like “women should be disciplined,” “women should not speak” or the ever so demeaning “women should be slaves.”

I’m pretty sure if Google was a woman, she certainly wouldn’t be saying that.

An ad campaign created for UN Women highlights the underlying psyche found in Google’s algorithm-based-system for search autocompletes. The campaign rolled out Monday night and showcases up-close shots of women with actual search results from Sept. 13.

You can find them with a quick Google search of UN Women Google ad campaign.

The ads themselves are creative, eye-catching and kind of dumbfounding. Basically, they accomplish everything they set out to and more.

But that might be part of the problem.

What the campaign succeeded in doing was bringing to light uncomfortable facts that showcase beliefs held by many individuals searching these topics.

Hang on, doesn’t Google base searches on the individual, you may say? And you wouldn’t be alone in this thought.

Some will, and have argued, that the results are skewed because of who is searching the terms.

However, Google’s algorithm compiles the most common or popular search starting with those letters to provide the searchbar suggestions. For a more detailed explanation visit Google’s “How Search Works” page. The only time your personal preferences come into play are if your most recent search or a frequent search of your’s matches the phrases.

Essentially, Google responds because X number of people have searched that exact phrase.

Scary, right?

To me, this is not an issue about Google’s algorithms or even its mass storage of personal facts. It’s not even a debate.

Google searches appear the way they do because enough people actively hunt them out. And when you have people searching for “women should be seen and not heard,” there’s a bigger societal problem.

As a female I don’t see why I need to be punished, constantly cover my hair, not speak in church or become mute overall.

But that’s the point of the ad campaign, not to cause a feminist uprising or scold males for chauvinistic behavior. It’s simply to raise awareness about something offensive and disheartening about a hidden belief about females in general.

One thing is for sure, if Google was a woman she wouldn’t like it either.

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