Facebook announced Friday that it disabled a topic recommendation feature after it mistakenly associated Afro-descendant men with “primates” in a video posted on the social network.
A company spokesperson called it “a clearly unacceptable mistake” and said the recommendation software involved was taken offline.
“We apologize to anyone who has seen these offensive recommendations,” answered Facebook when consulted by AFP.
“We disabled the entire topic recommendation feature as soon as we realized this was happening so we could investigate the cause and prevent this from happening again.”
Um. This “keep seeing” prompt is unacceptable, @Facebook. And despite the video being more than a year old, a friend got this prompt yesterday. Friends at FB, please escalate. This is egregious. pic.twitter.com/vEHdnvF8ui
— Darci Groves (@tweetsbydarci) September 2, 2021
The facial recognition program has come under fire from civil rights advocates, who point to accuracy problems particularly with non-white people.
Users of Facebook in recent days watched a British tabloid video starring black men and received an automatically generated ad asking if they wanted to “keep watching videos about primates”, according to the newspaper The New York Times.
Darci Groves, former head of content design at Facebook, shared a screenshot of the recommendation.
“This ‘keep watching’ notice is unacceptable.” Groves wrote in Twitter. “This is outrageous”.
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