SEO Positive Responds to Study Showing Possible Racial Profiling on Google Advertisements

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Research by Harvard University seems to indicate racial profiling.

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Google’s advertising technology exposes racial bias in society

A recent study carried out by a professor at Harvard University has found that certain names produce criminally related results. The study found that ‘black names’ those usually associated with mixed race, black or non white have a 25 percent higher chance of being linked to arrest record check services. The study compared over 2,000 names such as ‘Ebony’ and ‘DeShawn’ with typically white names such as ‘Jill’ and ‘Geoffrey’. The first two names produced adverts relating to criminality.

SEO Positive, one of the UK’s leading pay per click management organisations is alarmed to see such results. A representative from the company described the results as ‘shocking’ and doubted that ‘Google would behave in such a way’ adding that ‘It is other company’s who decide where to advertise – not Google.’

Professor Sweeney explained, ‘Together, these hand- picked examples describe the suspected pattern – ads suggesting arrest tend to appear with names associated with blacks and neutral ads or no ads tend to appear with names associated with whites, regardless of whether the company has an arrest record associated with the name…(the findings raise) questions as to whether Google’s advertising technology exposes racial bias in society and how ad and search technology can develop to assure racial fairness.’

In response to Professor Sweeny’s report The Telegraph published Google's comments, ‘AdWords does not conduct any racial profiling. We also have an anti ad violence policy which states that we will not allow ads that advocate against an organisation, person or group of people. It is up to individual advertisers to decide which keywords they want to choose to trigger their ads.’

SEO Positive continues to follow Google related news.

SEO Positive was established in 2007 in Chelmsford, Essex with the aim of bringing effective yet affordable online marketing services to companies from all industries and backgrounds. The company offers a huge range of services including search engine optimisation, Pay Per Click account management, social media marketing and website design.

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Ben Austin
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