Trend Watch: ‘Web Segregation’

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IAC’s new web portal aimed at the African-American community, RushmoreDrive, has officially launched. The launch party over at IAC headquarters in Chelsea took place last night with singer Regina Belle. The site offers search results specifically aimed at African-Americans. As Jessica E. Vascellaro succinctly put it over at the WSJ:

“RushmoreDrive.com [is] a search engine specifically targeting the black community by offering relevant search results, as well as news and job listings. For example, a search for “President Bush” may list the official White House Web site, as well as a link to an article about the president addressing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”

But are sites like RushmoreDrive.com signs of a creeping “Web segregation”? Jeff Jarvis considers the question:

Isn’t there a danger in creating a search engine segregated along racial lines? Does it create more separation? Does it create a new sort of echo chamber? Does it limit the world reached by the search? I would never want to use a search engine aimed at middle-aged, suburban white guys like me; I want the world. And how do they know what is black-oriented content? It almost smacks of reverse red-lining, possibly pandering: How can you tell that a given article would be of more interest to an African-American than others and who’s to say that all African-Americans would look at it the same way? Perhaps I need to hear the problem stated clearly before I can judge this as a solution.

Nonetheless, Web sites aimed at the African-American community are big business — just note the recent Newsweek/Washington Post launch of Henry Louis Gates Jr.‘s TheRoot.com.