Google will improve the representation of skin color in searches and photos

The company unveiled a skin tone scale designed to be more inclusive. It will soon be used on its search engine and its photo application.

At its annual conference dedicated to developers, Google has multiplied the announcements on new products. This event was also an opportunity to unveil a new tool that will allow better representation in search results and photos. Called Monk Skin Tone, it’s a ten skin tone scale developed in partnership with Harvard professor and sociologist Ellis Monk.

“In our research, we found that most of the time people feel grouped into racial categories, but there is all this heterogeneity with ethnic and racial categories. And many categorization methods, including old skin tone scales, fail to pay attention to diversity”, explained the sociologist. Having conducted research with this tool, Google claims that participants found it more representative of their skin colors “compared to the current tech industry standard”.

A tool to improve Google services

While the algorithms of Google and other tech giants have often been criticized for their problems in recognizing black skin, the skin tone scale will allow Internet users to be better represented on the web. The Mountain View company will introduce new features using this tool so that they find relevant and useful results in its search engine. Specifically, someone searching for makeup related in Google Images will see an option to filter results by skin tone. “If you’re looking for ‘everyday eyeshadow’ or ‘bridal makeup look’, you’ll more easily find results that better suit your needs”said Google.

To make searches more representative, the company also plans to develop a standard method for tagging web content. It can be used by creators, brands and publishers to label their content with attributes such as skin tone, hair color and texture. They would thus be better referenced by the search engine and other platforms.

Finally, the scale is going to be integrated into Google Photos. The company has announced the launch of a set of Real Tone Filters allowing the user to choose from an assortment of looks and find the one that reflects their style. They should be deployed in the coming weeks.

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