Twitter axes AI cropping after tests prove racial bias

Tony Arcieri
(Image credit: Tony Arcieri)

Twitter is axing its AI-powered 'intelligent' cropping feature after substantiating claims made by users that the algorithm to decide which area to crop could exhibit a racial bias.

Last years there were numerous claims that the algorithm used to create thumbnail images of larger pictures favourite light skin over dark. One prominent example was a test by cryptographic engineer Tony Arcieri featuring former President Barack Obama and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When the two photos were uploaded with a significant amount of white space between them, the algorithm would always center the crop on McConnell’s face. Obama only appeared in the thumbnail image when Arcieri inverted the colors, making skin color a non-issue.

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Laurence McJannet

Laurence is an NCTJ-trained journalist with nearly 20 years' editorial experience gained on a wide range of publications, from The Beirut Times in Lebanon to The Sunday Times, and including recent freelance engagements with Future's cycling and automotive portfolios, Outdoor Fitness, and The English Home. He has recently been undertaking a sports broadcast journalism MA at Southampton Solent, gaining valuable TV and radio experience, and am currently videographer for Frome Town FC soccer team. He is the author of Bikepacking (Wild Things Publishing, 2016).