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Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating

Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating

Conversation & Book Signing

A new book by Dr. Apryl Williams exposes how race-based discrimination is a fundamental part of the most popular and influential dating algorithms. “Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating” (Stanford University Press) provides a socio-technical examination of the AI systems powering Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and other apps. Williams uses deep analysis of companies’ patents and technology to reveal how racism and romance are now inextricably linked through computer code. She also interviews more than 100 app users, exploring why online dating as a person of color is so fraught.

Dr. Williams explores the dating platforms' algorithms, their lack of transparency, the legal and ethical discourse in the context of these companies' community guidelines, and accounts from individual users in order to argue that sexual racism is a central feature of today's online dating culture. She discusses this reality in the context of facial recognition and sorting software as well as user experiences, drawing parallels to the long history of eugenics and banned interracial partnerships. Ultimately, Williams calls for, both a reconceptualization of the technology and policies that govern dating agencies, and also a reexamination of sociocultural beliefs about attraction, beauty, and desirability.

This hybrid event features Dr. Williams in conversation with the Cyberlaw Clinic’s Kendra Albert, a legal scholar of computing, gender, and society.

not my type

About the Speakers

Apryl Williams is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Communication & Media and the Digital Studies Institute. She is also a Senior Fellow in Trustworthy AI at the Mozilla Foundation and a Faculty Associate at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Her research has been published in Big Data & Society, Ethnicities, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and Social Media & Society, among others.


Kendra Albert is a technology lawyer and scholar of computing, gender, and society. They are a clinical instructor at the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, where they teach students to practice technology law. Kendra also serves as a lecturer in the Program on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Their scholarship has been published in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, ACM FAccT, Cell Patterns, and volumes such as Feminist Cyberlaw and the Handbook of Critical Studies of Artificial Intelligence. Kendra holds a JD cum laude from Harvard Law School and a BHA from Carnegie Mellon University. They serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Tor Project, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Massachusetts. 


Past Event
Apr 2, 2024
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ET
1557 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 US