College Tells Female Students to Practice Facial Expressions in the Mirror to Avoid Being Raped

Another college has taken a new approach to sexual assault prevention, except it really isn’t new at all. A presentation to address campus sexual violence at Ramapo College in New Jersey was panned last week by students, faculty and the campus newspaper, which reported that the seminar included instructions for female students to practice “preventative” facial expressions in the mirror to avoid being harassed or assaulted. In short, victim blaming.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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