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Algorithm responsible for Santee man’s unfortunate face mask

Google Brings the Hate

Can you blame the guy for sewing himself a Klan hood? Well, yes, actually. But you can blame Google, too.
Can you blame the guy for sewing himself a Klan hood? Well, yes, actually. But you can blame Google, too.

Last week, a shopper showed up at a Santee Vons wearing the required face mask. Well, maybe not the required face mask: his nose and mouth were covered, but by a makeshift Ku Klux Klan hood. Government agents raided promptly raided the man’s home and seized his computer, hoping to find material that would link him to organized hate groups. Instead, they found Google search results that showed the man to have conducted a benign search for “how to sew a cloth mask,” only to receive instructions on sewing the infamous pointy white hate hat.

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Vons employees, wearing the latest in PPE riot gear, escort the pointy-headed shopper from the premises.

Reached for comment, Google’s Alexa responded, “Look, when someone from Klantee, er, Santee uses our search engine for information on how to sew a cloth mask, the same algorithm that helps Google bring you, from the infinite depths of the internet, the precise information you need on how to grow a sourdough starter from naturally occurring yeast because there’s no damn yeast at the grocery store because the virus has turned everyone into a baker for some reason — yes, that self-same algorithm works to bring that East County person the information it determined he was looking for - based on his past search history, the vast amount of personal data we’ve harvested from him, and of course, his geographic location. Santee has a long and less-than-proud history as a hotbed for white supremacist activity; there’s just no way for the algorithm to ignore that. So yes, he got search results that were tailored to our perception of him. And given his willingness to go along with what he got, I’d say we weren’t too far off. So: are we proud that our search engine helped a guy sew a Klan hood? Yeah, I guess in a way, we are.”

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Can you blame the guy for sewing himself a Klan hood? Well, yes, actually. But you can blame Google, too.
Can you blame the guy for sewing himself a Klan hood? Well, yes, actually. But you can blame Google, too.

Last week, a shopper showed up at a Santee Vons wearing the required face mask. Well, maybe not the required face mask: his nose and mouth were covered, but by a makeshift Ku Klux Klan hood. Government agents raided promptly raided the man’s home and seized his computer, hoping to find material that would link him to organized hate groups. Instead, they found Google search results that showed the man to have conducted a benign search for “how to sew a cloth mask,” only to receive instructions on sewing the infamous pointy white hate hat.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Vons employees, wearing the latest in PPE riot gear, escort the pointy-headed shopper from the premises.

Reached for comment, Google’s Alexa responded, “Look, when someone from Klantee, er, Santee uses our search engine for information on how to sew a cloth mask, the same algorithm that helps Google bring you, from the infinite depths of the internet, the precise information you need on how to grow a sourdough starter from naturally occurring yeast because there’s no damn yeast at the grocery store because the virus has turned everyone into a baker for some reason — yes, that self-same algorithm works to bring that East County person the information it determined he was looking for - based on his past search history, the vast amount of personal data we’ve harvested from him, and of course, his geographic location. Santee has a long and less-than-proud history as a hotbed for white supremacist activity; there’s just no way for the algorithm to ignore that. So yes, he got search results that were tailored to our perception of him. And given his willingness to go along with what he got, I’d say we weren’t too far off. So: are we proud that our search engine helped a guy sew a Klan hood? Yeah, I guess in a way, we are.”

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