Twitter To Investigate ‘Racism’ Found In Its Photo Preview Algorithm
By Thanussha Priyah, 21 Sep 2020
Image via Mano Kors / Shutterstock.com
In a recent Twitter experiment, it appears that the image preview function favors the faces of Caucasian people over Black people.
Twitter user @bascule attached photos of Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell in a series of tweets, and Twitter seemed to highlight McConnell’s face exclusively. Obama’s face only showed up when the images were inverted in color, removing skin color as a variable.
Several other users also joined in on the test to try out how the algorithm functions. One user even tried it out with the characters Lenny and Carl from The Simpsons, and the image preview seemed to prioritize Carl, who has a yellow complexion, as opposed to Lenny, who has brown skin.
Another user tried using photos of two dogs with different colors, and Twitter displayed the lighter-toned dog in its preview.
Twitter’s chief design officer Dantley Davis and chief technology officer Parag Agrawal acknowledged the Twitter test online.
“This is a very important question. To address it, we did analysis on our model when we shipped it, but needs continuous improvement,” Agrawal said about the algorithm.
Trying a horrible experiment...— Tony “Abolish (Pol)ICE” Arcieri 🦀 (@bascule) September 19, 2020
Which will the Twitter algorithm pick: Mitch McConnell or Barack Obama? pic.twitter.com/bR1GRyCkia
I wonder if Twitter does this to fictional characters too.— Jordan Simonovski (@_jsimonovski) September 20, 2020
Lenny Carl pic.twitter.com/fmJMWkkYEf
There you go pic.twitter.com/JgOGBAVxgz— nota 🐙 (@NotAFile) September 19, 2020
I tried it with dogs. Let's see. pic.twitter.com/xktmrNPtid— - M A R K - (@MarkEMarkAU) September 20, 2020
This is a very important question. To address it, we did analysis on our model when we shipped it, but needs continuous improvement.— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) September 20, 2020
Love this public, open, and rigorous test — and eager to learn from this. https://t.co/E8Y71qSLXa
[via Mashable, cover image via Mano Kors / Shutterstock.com]
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