Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Lecture | March 20 | 5-6:30 p.m. | Sutardja Dai Hall, 310 Banatao Auditorium

 Safiya Umoja Noble, UCLA

 Berkeley Center for New Media, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute

In her recent best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem. Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color- and contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.
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About Safiya Umoja Noble

In 2019, Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble will join the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford as a Senior Research Fellow/Associate Professor. She is currently visiting at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Communication, and is on the faculty of the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and the Department of African American Studies at UCLA. Previously, she was in Media and Cinema Studies and the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press) and was the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award. She is regularly quoted for her expertise by national and international press on issues of algorithmic discrimination and technology bias, including The Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, USA Today, Wired, Time, and the New York Times, to name a few.

Safiya’s academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology.

Dr. Noble is the co-editor of two edited volumes: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online and Emotions, Technology & Design. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of the Commentary & Criticism section of the Journal of Feminist Media Studies. She is a member of several academic journal and advisory boards, including Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno where she was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2018.

 lara@berkeley.edu