Trump allies wanted a data expert to find fraud in Nevada's election — but he debunked their claims instead

Donald Trump in Nevada. // Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Nevada is among the battleground states where supporters of President Donald Trump have concocted a narrative that President-elect Joe Biden's victory was due to widespread fraud. In the hope of making their case, Trump supporters asked Rex Briggs — a Nevada resident who specializes in data analysis — to investigate that state's election returns.

But when Briggs conducted an investigation as they requested, their claims fell apart. He ended up debunking their arguments, rather than finding proof for them. This should be no surprise, of course. Not only are the pro-Trump claims of election fraud made without credible evidence, but they're also made so wildly and out of proportion with reality that there's no indication the people making such allegations care about the truth at all.

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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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