Who You Are According To Google
A Google search can be a good barometer of how pervasive some stereotypes are in the world. If a search spider could sum up a nationality, a race, a religion in a few words, what would it say? What are Americans known for? What are the Europeans like?
Google Blogoscoped’s Philipp Lenssen, a German resident, recently put together “The Prejudice Map,” a world map with descriptions of world citizens based on Google searches. Using search queries like [“Americans are known for”] and [“Germans are known for”], Lenssen extracted descriptive phrases from the results.
According to the map he created, Americans are known for their strength, dislike of walking, geniality and hospitality, guarding their rights, and anti-Muslim politics; Russians are known for brutality, passion, tough negotiations, and soulfulness; and Mexicans are viewed as friendly, resourceful, rule-bending, and foul-mouthed.
On the whole, these results spin positively (save for the occasional unpunctual Bolivian and “extremely unclean” Brit-see map).
That positive spin is much different than what one may find from Google Suggest, a feature in beta that completes your keyword queries based on the most popular searches. Intended to make searching quicker and easier with real time artificial intelligence, Google Suggest’s automatic guessing about the completion of some phrases may leave your jaw agape at the seemingly inherent negative viewpoints out there.
Type in [Europeans are] into the query bar and you’ll see the world may often describe them as stupid, lazy cowards. Americans don’t fare much better. Beginning a query with [Americans are] finishes with them being fat, ignorant terrorists. And it doesn’t shy away from race, either. The same experiment works for completing phrases about blacks, whites, Jews—you name it.
The writer of the blog questineverything believes the auto-complete function is a reflection on the world society, not on Google.
“Google is not to blame. They are only the medium; we are the message,” reads the weblog.
Google Suggest more closely matches Wikipedia’s account of negative national stereotypes, but the optimist can hope that Lenssen’s more positive list is a better measure of world sentiment.