Google Says Sorry For Labeling Black People As Gorillas

Google Says Sorry For Labeling Black People As Gorillas
Google Logo Search Global Panorama / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Google has said “Sorry” for describing a black couple as “Gorillas” in its photo app. The identification software of the photo app made the mistake and tagged the couple as “Gorillas,” which spurred a lot of criticism.


A Google representative said to AFP on Wednesday, “We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened,” adding, “We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing.”

African-American computer programmer Jacky Alcine and his friend were labeled as gorillas in the photo app which was first noted on Monday by Mr Alcine of Brooklyn, New York.

Mr Alcine said in a series of tweets, “Google Photos, y’all f***** up. My friend’s not a gorilla.” He added, “The only thing under this tag is my friend and I being tagged as a gorilla.”

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As Irish Examiner reports, Google executive Yonatan Zunger replied to the tweet, saying, “This is 100% not OK. [It was] high on my list of bugs you never want to see happen.” He also mentioned, “We’re also working on longer-term fixes around both linguistics [words to be careful about in photos of people] and image recognition itself (eg, better recognition of dark-skinned faces). Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. But we’re very much on it.”

The Google photo app was released in May, and it was meant for major advancement in sorting, organizing and tagging pictures. The artificial intelligence software is designed to label pictures but it is possible to manually remove the tagging.

Zunger puts the blame on the software and mentioned that it sometimes does not recognize faces in the pictures; sometimes, it calls horses dogs.

While some mistakes can be forgotten and forgiven, some are beyond that. This single mistake has hurt the sentiments of black people big time, and that can leave an impact on the future of the app. Some people are calling Google racist, while some are cursing the company for making such software.

Though it seems easy to mark a place or a location to visit, in practice, it is quite difficult for a computer program to recognize animals and humans. This has been proved once again.