Black Womxn For / #BWFWarren — part 2 of (In)visibility on social media in the 2020 election

Jon Pincus
Nov 10, 2019 · 2 min read
100 #BWFWarren

Black Womxn For, a group of 100 Black women, gender non-conforming, and non-binary, and queer folk, endorsed Elizabeth Warren on Thursday. Since as is generally acknowledged Black women are the reliable base of the Democratic party, and one of the biggest questions about Warren’s campaign is whether she can appeal to Black voters in general, this is a pretty big deal.

The top stories throughout the day on Google News and reddit’s r/politics were about Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Trump and Bill Barr, Tom Steyer, Rudy Giuliani, Trump, Jim Jordan, …

Hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here.

Sure, these are all legitimate news stories, but so is an endorsement from 100 activists from a demographic that’s the Democrats’ strongest supporters — and Warren quite rightly describes as “the backbone of our democracy. So not showing this story is a great example of the dynamics Safiya Noble describes in Algorithms of Oppression. Algorithms privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.

The frustrating thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Nexus Today is a news aggregator that focuses on amplifying marginalized voices … and guess what, the top stories on the politics page on Thursday were about the Black Womxn For endorsement. I would love to say this is because of a brilliant algorithmic breakthrough, but no, actually it turns out that even straightforward techniques work well.

It’s almost like the Googles and Reddits of the world don’t even try.

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