Google Photos’ racist labeling

In May 2015 Google launched an app for sharing and storing photos called “Google Photos”. Google Photos has an algorithmic system that groups people’s photos, by automatically labelling their albums with tags. In the beginning, the labelling algorithms from Google Photos were working well, until a mistake of the system in recognizing dark-skinned faces was revealed, when tagging black people as “gorillas”. This bias mistake was noticed by Jacky Alcine, a young man from New York, when checking his Google Photos’ profile account on June 28th of 2015. He realized that the image-recognition algorithm generated a folder titled ‘Gorillas’, which only contained images of him and his friend.

Three years after the event, Wired revealed that Google “fixed” the problem but reducing the functionalities of the system, since the company would have blocked Google photos algorithms aimed at identifying gorillas altogether (Simonite, 2018).