In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities.
Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.
Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. As search engines and their related companies grow in importance—operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond—understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance.
An original, surprising and, at times, disturbing account of bias on the internet, Algorithms of Oppression contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.
In the Fall of 2017, Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble joined the faculty of the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Communication. Previously, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA where she held appointments in the Departments of African American Studies, Gender Studies, and Education. She is a partner inStratelligence, a firm that specializes in research on information and data science challenges, and is a co-founder of theInformation Ethics & Equity Institute, which provides training for organizations committed to transforming their information management practices toward more just, ethical, and equitable outcomes. She is the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award.
Noble’s academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology design. Her monograph on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines is entitledAlgorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism(NYU Press, 2018). She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of two books: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online (Peter Lang, Digital Formations, 2016), and Emotions, Technology & Design (Elsevier, 2015). Safiya holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno with an emphasis on African American/Ethnic Studies.
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