Tuesday 20 April 2021

Google to ban Zwarte Piet’s sooty replacement as a ‘racial stereotype’

Banned on Google. Photo: Brandon Hartley

Google is banning advertising in the run up to the Sinterklaas festivities using sooty Piets as well as the traditional blackface version, the company has confirmed to DutchNews.nl.

The ban means companies will not be able to promote their goods using sooty Piets, and individuals will not be able to make money from sooty Piet or traditional Piet videos on their YouTube channels.

Sooty Piets, to show they have climbed down the chimney to deliver presents, are fast becoming the accepted alternative to the controversial blackface character and have taken over as Sint Nicholas’s companion in many Sinterklaas parades and on tv.

Google is committed to equality and diversity,’ the company told DutchNews.nl in a statement. ‘We have seen that some alternative forms of Black Pete are still based on racial stereotypes. While always taking context into account, we have drawn a line to keep our policies applicable as consistently as possible.

DutchNews.nl asked Google to clarify which aspects of the sooty Piet is based on a racial stereotype, but the company failed to respond.

Facebook said this summer that it would ban blackface Piets from its social media channels as part of a decision to bar content that includes ‘implicit hate speech’ like blackface or anti-Semitic stereotypes on a global scale.

However, the platform’s moderators are not taking action against the images directly, and will only intervene if alerted to photos and video which break the guidelines.

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