September 24, 2021

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Technique. Facebook’s algorithm misrepresents blacks and monkeys

A Facebook recommendation algorithm asked users if they wanted to watch other “key videos” within a UK tabloid video showing black people, The New York Times Friday. Video daily Mail, over a year ago, titled “White Man Calls Cops Against Black Men in Marina”. It only shows people, not monkeys.

Below, the question “Do you see more primate videos?” The “Yes/Reject” options were shown on some users’ screen, according to a screenshot posted to Twitter by Darci Groves, the social media giant’s former designer. “It’s disgraceful,” she commented, calling on her former Facebook colleagues to escalate the matter.

A Facebook spokesperson responded: “This is clearly an unacceptable error.” “We apologize to everyone who saw these insulting recommendations,” he added. She said the California group deactivated the recommendation tool on this topic “as soon as we noticed what was happening in order to investigate the causes of the problem and prevent its recurrence.”

‘Imperfect’ artificial intelligence

The case highlights the limits of AI technologies, which the platform regularly highlights in its efforts to build a personalized feed for each of its 3 billion monthly users. The Facebook spokesperson continued, “As we’ve said, even though we’ve improved our AI systems, we know it’s not perfect and that we have progress to make.”

They also use it extensively to moderate content, to identify and block problematic messages and photos before they are even seen.

Twitter antecedents

Facebook, like its competitors, is regularly accused of failing to tackle racism and other forms of hate and discrimination.

In the past year, the Twitter algorithm has been criticized as racist. Internet users have noticed that the artificial intelligence of the social network used to paraphrase the photos posted on the platform is showing white people at the expense of black people.

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Example Tweet below: Image – vertically – includes the face of Barack Obama and that of white Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. Regardless of the order in which faces are placed, Twitter’s auto-cropping only places the image in the center of the image on the second face.

The topic raises more tension as several civil society organizations accuse social networks and their algorithms of contributing to the division of American society, in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations. count).