Shadowy New Website Encourages Belgians to Spy on Muslim Neighbors and Report Their Religious Practices

On Wednesday, April 6, Vlaams Belang, the far-right, nationalist political party promoting independence for the Flemish region in Belgium announced a new website, Islam Watch. This website calls upon Belgians to report any act of so-called Islamization, whether it be the opening of a new halal restaurant or butcher, or the appearance of a veiled teacher in the local school, or even a new mosque in the neighborhood.

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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.

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