Google Photos tags dark-skinned people as gorillas, executive apologizes

Google Photos tags dark-skinned people as gorillas, executive apologizes
The new Google Photos app comes with several bells and whistles that make it a go-to app for photo fans, such as unlimited free storage for high-resolution photos, automatic photo syncing, and an Auto Awesome feature that can automagically bring out the best from a photos. These are all nice features to have, but the most interesting component of Google Photos is the auto-tagging feature, one that aims to recognize the subjects in the photo, and tag them accordingly. Unfortunately, it turns out that Google Photos auto-tagging has a long way to go before becoming a reliable feature.

A Twitter user by the name of Jacky Alciné recently brought to Google's attention one of the most embarrassing bugs that can ever be imagined, as the Google Photos app auto-tagged photos of Alciné's dark-skinned girlfriend with the "Gorilla" tag. Yonathan Zunger, Chief Social Architect at Google, quickly reacted on Twitter when confronted with the bug that Alciné discovered, apologizing for the mistake and forwarding the issue to the Google Photos team.

In a series of replies on Twitter, Zunger announced that the team removed the "Gorilla" tag from the database, and then acknowledged that the facial-recognition feature still needs a lot of improvement. To make sure that no similarly-embarrassing bugs rear their head in the future, Zunger claims that the Google Photos team will steer away from potentially offensive tags in the future. According to Zunger, some users reported that blurred photos are showing up in search results, but a patch that fixes this particular will be released soon.

Did you encounter any similar problems with the Google Photos auto-tag feature? Drop us a comment and share the weirdest auto-tagging fluke that you've discovered so far!

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76 Comments

1. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

wtf google.

11. rihel_95

Posts: 305; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

No comments. only ROFL. bad day for BF.

15. waddup121 unregistered

Google..the RACISM IS REAL!

17. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

OMG. Bad Google....bad...Google...

111. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

OMG LOL

2. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 960; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Google, go to bed.

3. Salazzi

Posts: 537; Member since: Feb 17, 2014

LMAO!

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Holy $h!t! They need to fix that fast!!!

7. meanestgenius

Posts: 21496; Member since: May 28, 2014

They need to fix that like "The Flash" fast! For a company as large and well-renowned in tech like Google to have something like this happen is not only utterly embarrassing, but is also offensive and racist. Smh....

12. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

My daughter was playing with my wife's hair and she took a picture of the back her of head to show her what she had done, later when we looked in Google Photos, the image was tagged as "Dog". We all had a good laugh about it. But yeah, "The Flash" fast is right, they need to fix this.

14. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Oh good lord,... Racist? How can you call an errant face tagging algorithm racist? It's just code, and code can make mathematical mistakes. Hell' I've even seen a picture of a book case get tagged as being someone's girlfriend. Having discovered the issue it would be racist if they didn't work to fix the problem. But they have reacted appropriately, done so quickly, and offered an apology. In the future try thinking before you react with intellectually vacuous statements like that.

16. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

...So you're saying the bookcase is single?

19. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

No, no, no no, no! The man clearly stated that his friend is dating the bookcase. Though I suppose that it could be an open ended relationship. Are you interested in some fine pine? :-P

20. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Well, I thought the error might have been that Google thought the bookcase was going out with someone when she wasn't.

38. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

....Oh, valid point.... too many unanswered questions...

23. meanestgenius

Posts: 21496; Member since: May 28, 2014

First of all: Get off me. Second: If you really think that this is just some "errant code" making a mistake, you're an !Diot. PEOPLE program that code. If I have to explain it any further, then you will have proven to be exactly what I said directly above in this very comment.

50. darkkjedii

Posts: 30836; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Excellent post

71. My1cent

Posts: 370; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

[Slow clap]

28. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

It is racist if someone don't know the problem cause all others see is a black girl tagged as a gorilla doesn't matter if it's a technical problem or not it's still racist. How you react if your back says your money is lost because of a technical problem and won't return for sometime!!!

52. darkkjedii

Posts: 30836; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Well said.

70. My1cent

Posts: 370; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

[Head scratching]

34. QWERTYphone

Posts: 654; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Truth hurts, eh?

42. meanestgenius

Posts: 21496; Member since: May 28, 2014

Save it, you degenerate racist !Diot.

53. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Hmmmm... that sounds like hate speech to me.

55. meanestgenius

Posts: 21496; Member since: May 28, 2014

I could care less how anything sounds to you.

96. cnpthe3rd

Posts: 103; Member since: Feb 01, 2009

OK i get that this is an unfortunate mistake Google never intended to say the girl was a gorilla, but why the F.... did Google ever feal the need to tag gorillas in the first place I think that feature could have been omited completely I would never get upset if google did not tag the animals in the pictures of my trip to the zoo and the "mistaken identity" would have never happened

5. meanestgenius

Posts: 21496; Member since: May 28, 2014

Go home Google, you're drunk.

18. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

lmao. This is so...wow. I dont what to even say ...except it needs to get fixed pronto.

24. meanestgenius

Posts: 21496; Member since: May 28, 2014

Part of me wants to Lmao at this, the other part of me is wondering how they could have allowed such a F-up.

110. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

Hashahahahaha LMFAO

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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