Charles Cilliers
1 minute read
14 Jun 2018
3:14 pm

Google Images seems to think only white people live in SA squatter camps

Charles Cilliers

The reason comes down to what the internet considers news, over what's just another day.

A screenshot of part of Google's 'squatter camps in SA' search results.

Due to a strange algorithmic twist, South Africans noticed this week that when you search for “SA squatter camps” on Google and look for images, most of the results feature white people in shacks.

Obviously, this is a far cry from the reality, but appears to have happened because white people living in shacks is “news”, while black people living in shacks is just another day.

The preponderance of news article about the situation have therefore falsely skewed the image results.

In particular, two articles in the UK’s Mail Online and BBC appear to be the ones bringing up a large amount of the Google image search results.

Both of these articles cited the figure of 400 000 white South Africans living in conditions of extreme poverty. Fact-checking site AfricaCheck has debunked these figures.

Statistics South Africa’s 2011 General Household Survey found that only about 98 000 Asian, coloured and white households live in “informal dwellings”.

In 2016 charity organisation the South African Family Relief Project (SAFRP) claimed that the country was home to hundreds of white squatter camps due to race-based laws that prohibited whites from gaining employment. However, this turned out not to be even nearly accurate.

The organisation highlighted a squatter camp in Munsieville in the Krugersdorp area in Gauteng, which was home to about 300 people at the time.

Most of them were moved from Coronation Caravan Park, also in the Krugersdorp area, at the end of 2014.

About 13% of South Africa’s households live in squatter camps – and most of them are black.