Twitter Account Mocking the Petty Grievance Culture of Nextdoor Becomes More Popular Than the Real Thing

Back in the 90s, before the internet ruled every facet of social life, Americans possessed a ready-made stereotype of what a "neighbor" archetype might look like: nosy, yet endearing; occasionally nettlesome, yet happy to loan a cup of sugar. Fictional neighbors like Ned Flanders on "The Simpsons" or Wilson on "Home Improvement" embodied the stereotype, often doling out unsolicited advice to those series' protagonists.

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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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