Google’s algorithm is far from objective. Search engine processes, like auto-complete and suggestion functions, are limiting feminism’s reach and influence online. These advanced technologies are shaping the world we live in based on biased, socially prejudiced data . Pushing feminist material further and further down the search result ranking, internet-users are being fed one-sided, sexist information from data trapped within a problematic past.
How can code and data be subjective, you ask? Isn’t mathematics a universal truth? Not when the tech developers creating and training algorithms remain a homogenous, heteronormative, white-washed, testosterone-fuelled group.
As video-game developer, Mata Haggis-Burridge says, the internet is not an equal space for everyone. Unfortunately, algorithms like Google’s have been taught to predict online activities, searches and outcomes based on instructions from humans’ lived experience. And to be human means to be subjective. To be human means to be flawed. Since the tech industry is still largely dominated by white men, marginalised groups like people of colour and women are often forgotten and relegated to the periphery of digital society.
Search engine advancements have created an often threatening, inaccurate and discriminatory environment for women, particularly feminist journalists whose livelihoods and social mission depend upon the very sexist processes that oppress them. This means that feminist writers need to push back as hard as they can to maintain ‘cyber-relevance’.