Google Maps' cyber-racism hack locates White House after 'N***a house' search


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Cyber racism is nothing new, and the purveyors of online hate are at it again. If you don’t believe it, just go to Google Maps on your smartphone or computer and type in the words “ni**a house Washington” or “ni**er king” or even “ni**er house.” And what do you get?  Google takes you to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s right, the White House, where the black folks live.

To its credit, Google apologized for the mishap, without explaining why this is all happening in the first place. “Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologize for any offense this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly,” said a Google spokesperson, as reported in The Guardian.

This is not the first time Google has found itself in such a predicament. The company has had issues in the past, and they have to be more diligent.

Back in 2010, Google’s auto-complete search engine suggested racist queries after the user typed in “why.” Moreover, its ad system was 25 percent more likely to display ads for criminal background checks after typing in black sounding names.

Contrary to the belief that racism is going away, in many ways, it has become more recalcitrant. And with online technology, that racism has become more sophisticated, with cyber racists digging in their heels and lashing out anonymously. Just ask black writers what they face on a daily basis with online racist threats and harassment on social media, as Juan Thompson perfectly lays out in The Intercept.

All of this puts in perspective the comments that first lady Michelle Obama made recently at Tuskegee University on the indignities black people, including the Obamas, face on a daily basis. Everyone knows the stories of the racist email messages sent by Ferguson city employees, or emails that have circulated among Republican politicians depicting the Obamas as monkeys, President Obama as Ronald Reagan’s pet chimp and the White House lawn as a watermelon patch.

Even the Obama daughters are not immune to E-lynching. When a photo surfaced of Malia wearing a Pro Era t-shirt, for the Brooklyn-based hip hop collective, the right wing took to social media with racist attacks on her, calling her the N-word and accusing her and her father of being and anti-cop and anti-white. And when a GOP aide from the Tea Party lashed out at the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia by calling them classless dressers, #blacktwitter, which wasn’t having it, decided to call her out on her racism and shut her down.

Meanwhile, I just typed in “Ni**er University” on Google Maps, and Howard University popped up. Still not fixed.

If we didn’t live in that post-racial America some folks claim we’re now in — now that we have a black president, who apparently is called the N-word often — it would be enough to make you really angry.

Google, you need to tighten up those algorithms, or whatever you do in situations like this.

Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove