Google responded to the confusion surrounding the trend which encouraged people to Google search "Squatter camps in South Africa". Picture: Screengrab
Google responded to the confusion surrounding the trend which encouraged people to Google search "Squatter camps in South Africa". Picture: Screengrab

'White people in squatter camps': Google responds

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Jun 20, 2018

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Cape Town - A recent trend on social media has encouraged people to Google search "Squatter camps in South Africa
". The results showed an overwhelming number of images where white people were living in squalid conditions. This left many South Africans on social media confused, with many saying that this is not a true reflection of the situation in the country. 

A Google spokesperson responded to the recent debacle stating that they will never be finished when building a quality search because the experience is a complex and dynamic challenge.

"Because our systems are surfacing and organising information and content from the web, search can mirror biases or stereotypes that exist on the web and in the real world. 

"We understand that this can cause harm to people of all races, genders and other groups who may be affected by such biases or stereotypes, and we share the concern about this. We have worked, and will continue to work, to improve image results for all of our users." 

In August 2017, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) released it's " Poverty Trends in South Africa: An examination of absolute poverty between 2006 & 2015" which revealed that  the number of  persons living in extreme poverty (i.e. persons living below the 2015 Food Poverty Line of R441 per person per month) in South Africa increased by 2,8 million, from 11 million in 2011 to 13,8 million in 2015.

"The report shows that the most vulnerable to poverty in our society are children (aged 17 or younger), females, Black Africans, people living in rural areas, those residing in Eastern Cape and Limpopo, and persons with little or no education," Stats SA said.

"The income per capita Gini coefficient (income inequality) has declined from 0,72% in 2006 to 0,68% in 2015; however, the are notable variations amongst various population groups. Black Africans have the highest income inequality with a Gini coefficient of 0,65 in 2015, increasing from 0,64 in 2006.

"Income inequality amongst whites declined from 0,56 in 2006 to 0,51 in 2015. The Gini coefficient amongst Coloureds declined from 0,60 in 2006 to 0,58 in 2015. Despite having experienced declines in income inequality in 2009 (0,53) and 2011 (0,50), the Gini coefficient for Indian/Asians was 0,56 for 2006 and 2015."

When examining these statistics, they reveal that Black Africans are the one most affected by poverty, which is why many on Facebook and Twitter were confused at the Google search results not reflecting that.

Musa Mathebula:  " Guys can we talk about squatter camps in SA, why is google (sic)  and some media misinforming and hiding the truth."

Wendy Khanyisa Sotashe: " White media is dangerous. I just googled Squatter Camps in South Africa and you will be disgusted with what you see. This is what they did to other African countries and succeed. Lies lies lies. The sooner they go to Australia the better. "

Linky Precious: "When Right wing goes high tech to drive their agenda...this onslaught CANNOT be dismissed by complacency or ridiculous as some of these people are!!"


Cape Argus

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