Algorithmic Slander

Algorithms Have the First (and Last) Word: As you know (and as we showed you yesterday), Google can suggest some strange things when you start typing in that search box and can put up top search results that are not quite what you had in mind. Rick Santorum is experiencing this first hand. The top search result for his name is, well, not really related to the presidential candidate and is not safe for work. Santorum is obviously not happy about this and is not happy with Google. He spoke out against the search giant and even contacted Google to have the search result removed. Good luck with that one, Rick. As this New York Times article explains, Google’s reaction was basically “sorry we can’t help you, it’s up to the algorithm.” You may not feel bad for the distressed party in this situation, but what about other situations in which innocent people are judged unfairly because of what Google search algorithms attach to their names that don’t actually have anything to do with them? Like what social media and youth culture expert Danah Boyd discusses on her blog in a post entitled “Guilt Through Algorithmic Association.” Boyd offers the hypothetical example of a young Muslim boy whose name, Mohammad Abdullah, prompts Google to suggest things like, “Is Mohammad Abdullah a terrorist?” As Boyd points out, this could be an issue for Mohammad when he applies for college or tries to get a job. Clearly, algorithmic slander is a real issue. NYT

The Zuck is Still Bloodthirsty: Looks like Mark Zuckerberg has worked up an even bigger, meatier appetite from making all of these big changes at Facebook, so he’s into bigger game to kill. As you know, the Zuck only eats meat he kills. He now has a hunting license and has apparently killed a bison. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Fortune

Website of the Day: If you are a fan of microfiction, check out 50-Word Stories, a growing collection of, you guessed it, 50-word stories written by Tim Sevenhuysen, a 25-year-old graduate student at the University of Victoria, and other guest writers.

Comic of the Day: “What it’s like to own an Apple product” courtesy of The Oatmeal.

Video of the Day: Rick Perry in top form.

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