Okay Google, Do Black Lives Matter?

Black lives matter movement protest
Credit: Unsplash

Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant recently changed how they respond to the question, “Do Black Lives Matter?” 

After people across the world started protesting over the murder of George Floyd, tech companies recently implemented solidarity statements against racism and changed the way they respond to the question, “Do Black Lives Matter?” 

While not all corporations are speaking out, Google, Amazon, and Apple are not silent. These major tech companies are speaking up through their robotic voice assistants. 

When asked, “Do Black Lives Matter?” Google’s voice assistant responds: “Black Lives Matter. Black people deserve the same freedoms afforded to everyone in this country, and recognizing the injustice they face is the first step towards fixing it.” 

Google assistant also addresses the question “Do all lives matter?” this way: “Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean that all lives don’t. It means black lives are at risk in ways others are not.”

Google’s voice assistant is not the only way the company is speaking about racial injustice. Sunder Pichai, the CEO of Google, recently Tweeted, “Today on US Google & YouTube homepages we share our support for racial equality in solidarity with the black community and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & others who don’t have a voice. For that feeling grief, anger, sadness & fear, you are not alone.” 

Both Amazon and Apple made similar statements. 

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, posted on Instagram about a customer who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement. Bezos continued the post by saying that’s one customer he’s “happy to lose.” Some people are now criticizing Amazon and other tech companies for making superficial statements about racism. 

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that the company will launch a $100 million initiative to encourage racial equality and “challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration.” 

Apple’s Racial Equality and Justice Initiative plans to increase company spending with black-owned business partners. Through this initiative, Cook hopes to address “systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color and particular for the black community.” 

While it’s a good sign that companies are paying more attention to racial injustice, the question remains — is it enough? Bots speaking up with answers might be a step in the right direction, but how much will it help? When large corporations take time to examine the issue, maybe it can serve as a reminder for people to change the way they approach situations in their daily lives. 

When it comes to change, the question ‘Do Black Lives Matter’ is no longer directed to Siri — it’s a question for us.

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