Auckland-based creative advertising agency DDB NZ is fact-checking search engine results and shining a light on sportswomen with its new campaign, Correct The Internet.
It's a sad fact that, just like the offline world, the internet tends to favour men's achievements to an inaccurate extent. Enter Correct The Internet, which, as its name suggests, aims to set the record straight for the online recognition of sportswomen.
Launched on 21 January 2023, the campaign uses football as its prime example in a promotional video. Featuring a little girl who asks a stadium full of internet data about which international football player has scored the most goals, it quickly becomes apparent that the information it supplies is misleading and underplays the achievement made by sportswomen.
This inconsistency of searchable facts disadvantages sportswomen of all stripes. Hence, an international group of like-minded individuals with a vested interest in their recognition decided to do something about it. Founded in part by former New Zealand Football Fern Rebecca Sowden, Correct The Internet empowers people to report inconsistencies in search results so they can be logged and fixed.
"Many of the world's leading athletes are women," says Sowden. "Many of the world's sporting records are held by women. But when people search online for factual sporting information about athletes, the results favour the sportsmen, even when the sportswomen have greater statistics.
"Because the internet has learnt our bias, many search engine results are inconsistent, often favouring men, and change depending on who is searching. Our goal is to empower the next generation of sportswomen by ensuring that when women are the best in the world, the internet reflects that."
Correct The Internet has already garnered the support of many well-known athletes and high-profile sporting organisations, including English rugby's Red Roses player, Shaunagh Brown, and Football Fern Meikayla Moore. Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA), Women Sport Australia, and New Zealand Football have also publicly backed the campaign.
However, as Meikayla Moore points out, Correct The Internet is not concerned with pitting men against women. But instead, to "correct and highlight incorrect searchable facts" that lack consistency and accuracy, which in turn leads to disadvantages for sportswomen all around the world.
"I feel it's important for those that have achieved these amazing statistics, but also for all those witnessing such brilliance," she explains. "Women are heroes; let's recognise them for it and remove learnt bias, empowering and inspiring the next generation."
Among Correct The Internet's many strengths is its convenience. Reporting errors that need to be fixed can be an alien concept to many internet users, especially as recent design changes are intent on making this process difficult. So, by simplifying and standardising the process across all search engines, the tool hopes the public will be able to find and report as many inconsistencies as possible.
"There couldn't be a better time for this campaign, with women's sport in the spotlight more than ever before," says Women in Sport Aotearoa Acting Chief Executive Nicky van den Bos.
"The 2022 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup and the Black Ferns's performance in the Rugby World Cup last year, and this year's FIFA Football Women's World Cup in New Zealand means internet searches may just be at an all-time high. Let's ensure the results reflect the facts, not historical biases."
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