Facebook AI software labeled Black men as “primates”

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Image Credit: VentureBeat

A Facebook spokesperson has described as “clearly unacceptable error” a situation where its AI software labeled Black men as “primates.” The software, however, has been disabled by the company, the Facebook spokesperson confirms in a statement per The New York Times.

Not the first time though; Facebook is not new to such racial controversies; but this has the potential to cast the company in further bad light in the eyes of the public. Some users who recently watched a video from a British tabloid that featured Black men saw an automated prompt from the platform. They were asked if they would like to “keep seeing videos about Primates;” this led the company to investigate and disable the AI-powered feature that pushed that prompted the message.

The company spokesperson said Facebook was looking into the recommendation feature to “prevent this from happening again.” The controversial video was an old one published by The Daily Mail and dates back to June 27, 2020. The video features clips from Black men in altercations with white civilians and police officers; but had no connection to primates or monkeys.

As we have said, while we have made improvements to our A.I., we know it’s not perfect, and we have more progress to make. We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations,” Dani Lever, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement per NYT.

In June, a Russian court fined Telegram and Facebook over failure to remove banned content from their platform. Facebook has been fined $234.913, while Telegram will pay $138,042, said the court based in the Russian capital Moscow.

The fine came on the heels of last May’s fine where Facebook was ordered to pay $359,635 for not taking down posts deemed “illegal” by the Russian authorities.

Social media platforms have been feeling the pressure from Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor in recent times. Most affected are foreign-owned social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

A couple of months ago, Russia announced plans to slow down access to Twitter in the country. The country said this became imperative to protect its citizens from illegal content. The measure was announced by Russia’s communication authority who said Twitter failed to remove illegal content from its platform.

Russia’s Federal Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Communications Oversight Service, also known as Roskomnadzor, said that it was throttling down the speed of Twitter.


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Author: Ola Ric

Ola Ric is a professional tech writer. He has written and provided tons of published articles for professionals and private individuals. He is also a social commentator and analyst, with relevant experience in the use of social media services.

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