May 20, 2021

Twitter finds racial bias in image-cropping AI

Twitter's automatic cropping of images had underlying issues that favoured white individuals over black people, and women over men, the company said. Under the old system, the algorithm would do its best to centre the view of very tall or wide images in a way that would frame people's faces or other interesting parts of the image. "We considered the trade-offs between the speed and consistency of automated cropping with the potential risks we saw in this research," wrote Rumman Chowdhury, Twitter's director of software engineering. "One of our conclusions is that not everything on Twitter is a good candidate for an algorithm, and in this case, how to crop an image is a decision best made by people," she said. In a statement to CNN, a Twitter spokesperson clarified that while the initial change was on mobile apps - where the problem was first reported - the company plans to remove the algorithmic cropping from the website version of Twitter in the coming months.

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