Brazilian WE goes in #SearchForEquality, raises awareness on racial inequality in search results

Creativity, CSR

The movement #SearchForEquality has engaged millions of people in Brazil in only a week making Google, Shutterstock and Depositphotos to discuss how to change their algorithms globally.

Why is it necessary to include the word “black” to find black people pictures on search results? This is what the NGO Desabafo Social (an expression that means “Get Something Off Your Chest”) is questioning in the experiment #SearchForEquality  (#BuscaPorIgualdade, in Portuguese) addressed to the largest image banks in the world – Getty Images, Shutterstock, Depositphotos and iStock Photos. The experiment was created by WE, the biggest independent agency in Brazil.

Due to the movement started on March 21st, the NGO´s founder Monique Monique Evelle, a 22-year-old activist, had a meeting with Pedro Less, director of Google’s Government Affairs & Public Policy for LATAM. He agreed with the campaign’s arguments and addressed the matter internally so the company can study how to change its algorithms to include black people on search results. Apart from Google, Shutterstock  and Depositphotos also responded to the campaign, the first one said their content team is working on the algorithm changes and Depositphotos promised to do their best to fix it.

In Brazil, where 54% of the population is black, setting the standard as “white” becomes even more controversial. It may shows that veiled racism still persists in this society. Millions of Brazilians were impacted in just one week by the experiment on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The campaign also spread out over different local news websites, such as Huffington Post Brazil.

The campaign’s goal was to engage people and influencers to spread out the story organically, so we can make a real change on social equality starting by changing their  search algorithms

Guy Costa,

Partner & CCO WE


The experiment revealed a pattern throughout all Image Banks on search results for generic words, such as ‘family’”. On Depositphotos, for instance, when the generic term “person” is searched, almost all of images that is shown are related to white people. The very same pattern was found on three more Image Banks: iStock,Shutterstock and Getty Images, where the terms “skin”, “family” and “baby” were searched respectively. In order to find a considerable amount of black people pictures, the term “black” had to be typed before the other terms.

These algorithm flaws can be fixed for social equality. We are inviting all the Image Banks for a chat to see how it can be improved. We know it is a global issue, these search flaws can be found all over the internet, not only related to the Image Banks, however if everybody does their share, it is possible to change this reality

Monique Evelle,

Founder Desabafo Social

Monique’s work has already garnered her recognition. In 2017 she appeared on Forbes Brazil’s Under 30 list, also she’s considered one of the 25 most influential black women in the Brazilian internet, according to Think Olga’s Black Bloggers and Inspiring Women 2015. She was also a TEDx speaker at São Paulo, Rio Vermelho and Rio de la Plata editions.


Advertiser: Desabafo Social / Monique Evelle

Ad Agency: Agência We

  • CCO: Guy Costa
  • Creative Director: Guy Costa, Ana Castelo Branco, Ricardo Sarno, Luis Constatino
  • Copywriters: Vitor Medrado, Murilo Israel
  • Art Director: Douglas Reis, Cristiano Rodrigues
  • RTVC Producer: Juliana Emeric, Lais Leleu
  • Production: Agência We
  • Motion Graphics: Amanda Campos, Ebson Clarindo
  • Sound: Cristiano Rodrigues
  • Social Media: Guilherme Pettine, Bruno Neves, Matheus Monteiro
  • Executive Producer: Mauricio Galvão