“World White Web” Seeks to Diversify Google Image Search

Johanna Burai, a student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, recently noticed some serious whitewashing in Google Image searches.

According to Burai, an image search for “Hand” turns up over 800 results, but all of the hands, she noticed, were white. When searches for other body parts turned up similar results, Burai founded “World White Web” a website featuring six non-white hands that she hopes will be shared enough on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to solve the problem on a micro level and effect change in Google Images on a macro level.world-white-web-hands

“In my project, I’ve simply used the most common way of search optimization for a website,” Burai says. “That means sharing the images and the message through social media to reach out to as many people as possible and also tell people to upload the images on their own sites and link back to my website. The more sites that upload the images and link back to my site, the higher my site with the hand images will climb on Google.”

Burai is using similar tactics that recently got Google into some serious hot water when the search engine linked racial slurs to The White House on Google Maps search results. However, World White Web could be Google’s chance to redeem itself for last week’s slip up.

While Burai says she’ll probably have to wait at least three weeks to see results, she hopes her experiment will change Google Images for the better.

“It’s very easy to reveal the norms of society through Google Image search results,” Burai explains. “I want to see a more diverse representation of the human body on Google.”

Images via Johanna Burai 

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