Magazine article USA TODAY

Racial Inequality Produced Online

Magazine article USA TODAY

Racial Inequality Produced Online

Article excerpt

Internet users tend to navigate among websites in a racially segregated way, despite pathways that provide equitable access to different sites, finds a study by the School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Discussions about racial inequality on the Internet have been going on for quite awhile, but few studies have attempted to demonstrate whether and how systemic racial inequality might form on the web.

"We know that people do racist things on and using the Internet--but looking beyond individual, interpersonal accounts of bigotry, how does systemic racial inequality form in the digital world?" asks study author Charlton McIlwain, associate professor of media, culture, and communication. "We must consider how the Internet developed as a part of a longstanding history and process of racial formation--the complex, racialized historical contexts, circumstances, interests, and problems that predate but may either be exacerbated or corrected by the web's technological environment."

McIlwain found that web producers create hyperlink networks that do not steer audience traffic to other sites based on their racial or nonracial nature. …

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