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Contribution Details

Type Journal Article
Scope Discipline-based scholarship
Title Auditing the representation of migrants in image web search results
Organization Unit
  • Aleksandra Urman
  • Mykola Makhortykh
  • Roberto Ulloa
Item Subtype Original Work
Refereed Yes
Status Published in final form
  • English
Journal Title Humanities & Social Sciences Communications
Publisher SpringerOpen
Geographical Reach international
ISSN 2662-9992
Volume 9
Number 1
Page Range 130
Date 2022
Abstract Text Search engines serve as information gatekeepers on a multitude of topics that are prone to gender, ethnicity, and race misrepresentations. In this paper, we specifically look at the image search representation of migrant population groups that are often subjected to discrimination and biased representation in mainstream media, increasingly so with the rise of right-wing populist actors in the Western countries. Using multiple (n = 200) virtual agents to simulate human browsing behavior in a controlled environment, we collect image search results related to various terms referring to migrants (e.g., expats, immigrants, and refugees, seven queries in English and German used in total) from the six most popular search engines. Then, with the aid of manual coding, we investigate which features are used to represent these groups and whether the representations are subjected to bias. Our findings indicate that search engines reproduce ethnic and gender biases common for mainstream media representations of different subgroups of migrant population. For instance, migrant representations tend to be highly racialized, and female migrants as well as migrants at work tend to be underrepresented in the results. Our findings highlight the need for further algorithmic impact auditing studies in the context of representation of potentially vulnerable groups in web search results.
Free access at DOI
Digital Object Identifier 10.1057/s41599-022-01144-1
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Keywords General Economics, Econometrics and Finance, General Psychology, General Social Sciences, General Arts and Humanities, General Business, Management and Accounting