Researchers at Rutgers University find Spanish autocompletes are more likely to yield harmful, negative results
“Little attention has been paid to the ways computer search algorithms present unequal access to health information across languages,” according to lead author Vivek Singh, an assistant professor at Rutgers-New Brunswick’s School of Communication and Information.
His team found that online autocomplete results for coronavirus related information are more likely to yield misleading results if the user types in Spanish than in English.
This difference may harm Spanish speakers by connecting them with misinformation about basic precautions or the disease itself.
“The autocomplete function, while convenient, may contribute to bias that has the potential to lead to health inequality experienced by marginalized and racial minority groups by providing different results for similar inquiries,” said Pamela Valera, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and affiliated faculty member at School of Social Work.