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Twitter Announces Changes To Image Cropping Amid Bias Concern

Twitter said it will make changes to how preview images are cropped amid concerns about possible bias. Some Twitter users posted images the site's algorithm selected white faces over Black ones in preview images.
Richard Drew
/
AP
Twitter said it will make changes to how preview images are cropped amid concerns about possible bias. Some Twitter users posted images the site's algorithm selected white faces over Black ones in preview images.

Twitter says it is making changes to how preview photos are cropped after users raised concerns that the site's algorithm was showing preferences for white faces over Black ones.

Twitter says its photo cropping model uses the most salient or engaging part of a photo in creating a preview image. Last month, however, some users posted images whose previews they say may demonstrate that the platform's algothrim prefers white faces.

One instance involved the photo of a Zoom call where the site's algorithm apparently opted for the white user over his Black colleague. Another example included a photo of both former President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The preview image was of McConnell's face.

Twitter replied to the latter example saying during testing it didn't "find evidence of racial or gender bias" in its model for creating preview images, though the company said it had "more analysis to do."

On Thursday, in a post titled, "Transparency Around Image Cropping and Changes to Come," the company opened up on how it tested for bias in its photo cropping model. Moreover, Twitter said it would institute changes soon, which would include improved preview options and more user control on how photos were cropped.

"We hope that giving people more choices for image cropping and previewing what they'll look like in the Tweet composer may help reduce the risk of harm," the company said in the post.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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