'Racist' Twitter algorithm erases black faces from preview pictures

One example posted online by Twitter user @bascule shows American politician Mitch McConnell and former US President Barack Obama, with the system favouring Mr McConnell in its preview over Obama.

Meanwhile, another person tried with Simpson cartoon characters Lenny and Carl – the latter who is black – with Lenny appearing to take preference.

A third user even tried with dogs, resulting in a white dog in the prime preview position over a black dog.

Twitter chief design officer Dantley Davis said the firm is investigating, adding there are ‘some variables that we need to look into’.

Mr Davis posted an image of a black man and a white man in a rough test of his own, in which the black man was favoured in this case but only once both men’s hands had been cropped out of view.

‘It’s not a scientific test as it’s an isolated example, but it points to some variables that we need to look into,’ he tweeted.

‘Both men now have the same suits and I covered their hands. We’re still investigating the NN.’

Twitter’s chief technology officer Parag Agrawal also wrote about the matter, saying developers did analyse the model before rolling it out but said it ‘needs continuous improvement’ and he is ‘eager to learn from this’.

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