A ‘Bitches Near Me’ Google Search Will Take You to Women’s Hostels

Want to find bitches near you? Search Google.

That’s right. Twitter user @AHappyChipmunk pointed out that typing “bitches near me” ends up showing addresses of women’s hostels, PGs and even girls’ schools!

The revelation prompted lots of other Twitter users to try the same search, and they were surprised to find out that even their searches revealed the names of nearby women’s hostels and PGs. Many others were shocked and rightly expressed their outrage online.

So why would Google do this? The answer is simple. Its algorithm felt that bitches could be a term used for women, and hence showed results that should have shown up had the term ‘women’ been searched for instead.

This isn’t the first time Google searches have revealed negative stereotypes about women.

A Wired article dated February 2018 points out how if you search for ‘feminists are’ on Google, its autocomplete suggestion fills in the word sexist, which then becomes the phrase ‘feminists are sexist’. #Awkward.

While The News Minute writes that in 2017, Shashi Tharoor in a tweet had tagged Google to explain why ‘south Indian masala’ ended up showing women on Google images.

So, blame it all on the algo then?

Yes and no. Because while Google’s algorithm in these cases has picked up the misogynist language that people tend to use online, as a responsible tech platform it must not shy away from fixing the problem.

To be fair, Google users can report inappropriate predictions. The link to do so appears at the bottom of the autocomplete tab.

And it’s not like Google predictions have no filter whatsoever. Google’s policies about autocomplete predictions ban violent, hateful, sexually explicit, and dangerous predictions.

Nonetheless, that a platform as powerful and universally accessible as Google could be seen to be playing into sexist stereotypes and downright misogynist values is a dangerous sign. And that must change soon.

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