Google tells the truth we aren’t willing to admit out loud

I have always thought that we need to make more use of social media insights to probe attitudes.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, former Google data scientist and author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are does just that as this excerpt on racism illustrates:

There are other “dark currents flowing beneath the civilized surface of America,” Stephens-Davidowitz notes when discussing some of his more incendiary political findings. Americans annually launch seven million Internet searches that include the n-word. They look for “n-word jokes” 17 times more than anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, anti-everybody-else jokes combined. On Barack Obama’s first election night, one per cent of the searches for his name also included the n-word or KKK. Some states recorded more searches for “n-word president” than “first black president.” Explicit, if hidden, racism remains a potent political force—the hotbeds of those searches correlate to the “surprise” areas that put Trump in the White House, including western Pennsylvania and the industrial Midwest. One arresting statistic from election night 2008: nine years later, the white supremacist group Stormfront has yet to equal the website traffic it generated then. That’s a defining illustration, says Stephens-Davidowitz, “of the contrast between what people say about the world and what they really think of it.”

Source: Google tells the truth we aren’t willing to admit out loud – Macleans.ca

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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