After an in-depth analysis, Twitter acknowledges that its current image cropping algorithm is indeed biased towards white people and women, so future updates will allow Twitter users to manually crop their images.
It's impossible to please everyone, and perhaps no one knows that better than the beloved social media platform Twitter. With every major update, Twitter users are often split about the application's continued development, with some users longing for "the old Twitter" and others thoroughly enjoying the app's latest features.
As seen with its newly incorporated features like Fleets and Spaces, the veteran social media platform typically stands its grounds, but after catching flack from users who called out the app's seemingly biased image cropping algorithm, Twitter acknowledged the situation and went back to the drawing board.
Last fall, Twitter user @bascule exposed the potentially faulty algorithm by showing that the app favored Mitch McConnell over Barack Obama in two separate images, which soon prompted a response from Twitter, who said, "We tested for bias before shipping the model & didn't find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear that we’ve got more analysis to do."
Eight months later, Twitter has confirmed via an official post on its website that their in-depth analysis concluded that Twitter users were right. According to Complex, Twitter's study tested for racial bias, gender bias, and the "male gaze," and it eventually concluded that there’s around an 8 percent demographic parity favoring women, and 4 percent favoring white people. In order to rectify the situation, the social media platform has decided to remove machine learning from the image cropping function on Twitter and put power into users' hands.
"One of our conclusions is that not everything on Twitter is a good candidate for an algorithm, and in this case, how to crop an image is a decision best made by people," Twitter reveals in its statement. "In March, we began testing a new way to display standard aspect ratio photos in full on iOS and Android — meaning without the saliency algorithm crop."
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"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," the statement continues. "This update also includes a true preview of the image in the Tweet composer field, so Tweet authors know how their Tweets will look before they publish."
Stay tuned for more updates as Twitter rolls out its new manual image cropping feature.