Google Image’s search algorithm is fantastically useful a lot of the time. Other times, it is kind of creepy, especially if you’re searching for female stars. Wired looked at the different results the service produced when users searched for pictures of men and women.
If you’re searching for a man, Google’s image-hunting algorithm will mostly focus on his career. If you’re searching for a woman, Google’s algorithm will focus on her body. Do a Google Images search for Robert Downey, Jr., for example, and only four out of the 30 algorithmically-generated related search terms relate to his physical appearance: workout, body, handsome, cute. The vast majority focus on films he has starred in and actors he has appeared alongside. Do the same for Avengers co-star Scarlett Johansson and Google will recommend no fewer than 14 related visual searches based on her physical appearance, from “stomach” to “figure” and “big” to “rack”. It’s the male gaze, algorithm style.
Check It Out: Google Image Search’s Creepy Sexism Problem