The social network apologized after a referral tool suggested videos of “primates” after a Daily Mail video showing black people.
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Facebook evokes “an unacceptable error”. A recommendation algorithm used by the social network asked users if they wanted to see others “primate videos” under a British tabloid video showing black people, revealed the New York Times (link in English), Friday September 3.
“We apologize to anyone who has seen these insulting recommendations”, reacted a spokeswoman for Facebook to AFP after these revelations, ensuring that the Californian group had deactivated the tool of recommendation on this subject “as soon as we realized what was going on in order to investigate the causes of the problem and prevent it from happening again“.
The video of Daily Mail, over a year old, is titled “white man calls cops against black men at the marina”. Below, the question “see more primate videos?” with options “Yes / Reject” was displayed on the screens of some users, according to a screenshot posted on Twitter by Darci Groves, a former designer of the social media giant. “It’s scandalous”, she commented, calling on her ex-colleagues at Facebook to escalate the matter.
The case underlines the limits of artificial intelligence technologies, regularly accused of perpetuating racist clichés or of maintaining discrimination, as pointed out in June 2020 by this article by Numerama.
“As we said, although we have improved our artificial intelligence systems, we know that they are not perfect and that we have some progress to make”, acknowledged the spokesperson for Facebook.