Google Apologizes for Racially Insensitive Label by Photo App

Jul 2, 2015  •  Post A Comment

Google has issued an apology after its new Photo app mislabeled a photo of two black people, calling them “gorillas,” CNET reports.

“Jacky Alcine, a Web developer who is black, took to Twitter to say Google’s Photo app, released in May, labeled a picture of him and a friend as ‘gorillas,'” the story reports. “The label showed up in a feature that automatically categorizes photos, like cars or beaches, so they are more easily searchable.”

Alcine posted a picture of the mislabeled photo, writing: “My friend’s not a gorilla.”

The company quickly went into damage control. A Google spokeswoman is quoted saying: “We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and we’re looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future.”

Yonatan Zunger, chief architect of social at Google, offered similar sentiments in a tweet, writing: “Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. We’re very much on it.”

The CNET report notes: “This isn’t the first time algorithms have messed up in ways people have found offensive. When Yahoo overhauled its Flickr photo storage app in May, the company added similar features that automatically add tags to photos. The algorithm tagged a photo of a black man as an ape, and concentration camp photos got tags like ‘jungle gym’ and ‘sport.'”

google photos app "gorilla" mislabel

One Comment

  1. This is what you can expect from a company with their reputation for hiring minorities and women.

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