Google adds Tyra Banks for Taylor Swift – F for Google + and Diversity

In a response to my charge that Google’s Suggested Users List for Google + was racist and ignored black women, Google replaced singer Taylor Swift, who’s white, with Tyra Banks, who’s black. This was pointed out by Jon Pincus.

As much as this blogger blasted Google and Bradley Horowitz for its Google Suggested User List, or in other words, “Here’s why we think white folks rule the planet,” Jon Pincus and Kathy Gill of the blog We Get Google Plus, and have done a great job in pointing out Google’s Google+ diversity problem.

In the case of the Google Suggested User List, Zennie62 blog wrote…

The Google Suggested User List reads like the typical San Francisco Bay Area tech firm’s view of the World: most of the “interesting and famous people” are white, and if they’re black, they’re male rappers or athletes. Hello, Snoop Dog, Chamillionaire, 50 Cent, Dwight Howard, and Floyd Mayweather!

I guess black women just don’t exist. Or maybe Google has issues with the presentation of black women on the list? It’s certainly not because there are no notable black women using Google+ – the problem is Google doesn’t think they’re notable.

Something’s wrong, and it’s not with them, it’s with Google.

Pincus has taken this a step further. (Oh, and Pincus is white, by the way, for those who asked. A person can be any skin color and question the society around them, you know.) On, Pincus said…

The suggestions in the politics list are probably the most extreme example of the lack of diversity. They’re all from North American. They’re all native English speakers. They represent a fairly narrow range of the political spectrum. [Yes, even in the US, there’s a lot more perspectives than “Northern California Democrats” and “long-shot secular Republican presidential candidates”.] Oh yeah, and they’re all straight white guys too….

Or take the top 22 “picks” — what new users see when they first log in.

– 15 (68%) of them are guys.
– The women* are primarily actresses, singers, or in sports and fitness – no writers, photographers, techies, executives, investors … or educators, of course.
– There aren’t any women of color.
While there’s some racial diversity with the guys, as Zennie points out the only three blacks are Chamilionaire the Ceo, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg. As Shireen Mitchell says in A tale of two challenges

The stereotype that the only way to get diversity is through entertainment or sports is an ongoing saga in the view of Blacks in Tech.

I hope this doesn’t come across as criticizing anybody who is on the list. I respect what they’ve accomplished. There are some truly inspired choices.

But the overall distribution definitely leaves room for improvement.

And Pincus reports that Google+ replaced Taylor Swift for Tyra Banks, blogging…

+Tyra Banks has replaced +Taylor Swift. It’s nice to see a black woman there; but it still fits the pattern that are primarily actresses, singers, or in sports and fitness

And it does.

What’s really galling is that Google didn’t go after Condoleezza Rice. She’s a legend. The first, and still only black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. Hey, Ms. Rice is on Facebook.

Something is really wrong here. Give Google an “F” for Google+ and diversity.

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