Pretoria - Images of white people in informal settlements left hundreds of social media users confused after a popular advertising creative, Xolisa Dyashana, asked his Twitter followers to google ‘Squatter camps in South Africa’.
A predominance of white adults and children in the images confused many social media users who asked themselves ‘Which South Africa is this?’.
The tweet was eventually screen grabbed and shared on Facebook by users who probably expected to see more black people in the images.
Please google "squatter camps in South Africa" and go to images. @Google when did this happen and why? 😳😳😳
Despite the confusion, Dyeshana’s tweet also created an opportunity for social media users to educate themselves about how Google worked and ranked content.
Dear @Google. Is there a fact-checking function before content is loaded? The search results for "squatter camps in South Africa" is BEYOND the scope of GROSS MISREPRESENTATION. Next thing Google street view will show wild animals in the city at the stopsign 👀👀 @AfricaCheckpic.twitter.com/tw2CLcfNOj
Some users thought the search engine results were funny and called for the current minister of police Bheki Cele to investigate. TV character Captain Malebana from SABC1 drama, Skeem Saam, was also invited to intervene and investigate Google.
Meanwhile, some users tagged @google and @googleafrica and asked where were the real images of South African squatters camps.
Nkanyiso Ngqulunga tweeted: But Google images are just a collection from all articles that are written, it is not that someone put those images to imply the opposite.
However, Mangwanya tweeted: And if I tell you that I pay Google to show you only what I need for you to see when you search my name and surname?
SheReady said: “Google didn't do anything wrong. Their algorithm did its job and picked up those images based on the content uploaded on the internet. So it's better to actually read those articles and find out what's going on - dispute the individual authors if needs be.”
Wow. @XolisaDyeshana told me to google Squatter Camps in South Africa and these are the images. This means that the only stories told about people in squatter camps are about white people because they are “not supposed to be in them.” pic.twitter.com/MkuwNydwdB
Looking at the images, @SiyaVumazonke jokingly tweeted that this meant that the land should be expropriated from black people without compensation.
Assistant digital manager for one of South Africa’s media groups, Daniel Mahume, told the Pretoria News it was possible that google confused keywords and tags on Googlebot. He said Googlebot was a system the search engine used to rank content for search engine optimisation (SE) purposes.
“It’s likely that Google just pulled the wrong images because it uses keywords and content to pull up content,” he explained.
Ok so wtf Google ? I saw a post on FB saying to search " squatter camps in south Africa" and hit Google images.... I'm still confused 😂😂 Google I always trusted u,but after this search I'm done 💀💀💀
However, Ntando Makhubhu who is the news editor at the Pretoria News said: “Although there were more black people living in South African informal settlements, there were also informal settlements with white residents,”
Makhubhu said she once covered a story where former president Jacob Zuma visited Danville informal settlements to give dwellers RDP houses and some of the beneficiaries were white people.