Twitter Apologies for ‘Racist’ Image-cropping Algorithm


Users highlight examples of feature automatically focusing on white faces over black ones

Twitter has apologized for a “racist” image cropping algorithm, after users discovered the feature was automatically focusing on white faces over black ones.

The company says it had tested the service for bias before it started using it, but now accepts that it didn’t go far enough.

Twitter has long automatically cropped images to prevent them taking up too much space on the main feed, and to allow multiple pictures to be shown in the same tweet. The company uses several algorithmic tools to try to focus on the most important parts of the picture, trying to ensure that faces and text remain in the cropped part of an image.

A simple, fun & creative way to capture, edit & share photos, videos & messages with friends & family.

But users began to spot flaws in the feature over the weekend. The first to highlight the issue was PhD student Colin Madland, who discovered the issue while highlighting a different racial bias in the video-conference software Zoom.

When Madland, who is white, posted an image of himself and a black colleague who had been erased from a Zoom call after its algorithm failed to recognize his face, Twitter automatically cropped the image to only show Madland.

Others followed up with more targeted experiments, including entrepreneur Tony Arcieri, who discovered that the algorithm would consistently crop an image of US senator Mitch McConnell and Barack Obama to hide the former president.AMIBC® - VOTE! BE COUNTED! BE HEARD!


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