The algorithmic image cropping that Twitter was using to fit images into preview boxes was problematic.
In a blog post, Rumman Chowdhury, a software engineering director for Twitter’s machine learning ethics, transparency and accountability team, wrote that the company concluded the algorithm was biased after testing it for gender- and race-based biases.
In March this year, Twitter began testing a new way to display standard aspect ratio photos in full on iOS and Android – meaning without the saliency algorithm crop.
“The goal of this was to give people more control over how their images appear while also improving the experience of people seeing the images in their timeline. After getting positive feedback on this experience, we launched this feature to everyone, ” Chowdhury said.
In October 2020, the company heard feedback from people that its image cropping algorithm didn’t serve all people equitably.
Twitter found after several months of testing that in comparisons of men and women, there was an 8 per cent difference from demographic parity in favour of women.
“In comparisons of black and white individuals, there was a 4 per cent difference from demographic parity in favour of white individuals. In comparisons of black and white men, there was a 2 per cent difference from demographic parity in favour of white men,” the findings showed.