Science & Tech

Facebook’s AI accidentally labelled black men as ‘primates’ in video

Facebook’s AI accidentally labelled black men as ‘primates’ in video

Facebook has apologised after its artificial intelligence (AI) software accidentally labelled black men as ‘primates’.

The error was noticed last week in a video uploaded by MailOnline in June 2020 which showed a white man calling the police and telling them he was “being harassed by a bunch of black men” who had been celebrating a birthday party.

The video came with an additional recommendation asking viewers “if they wanted to ‘keeping seeing videos about primates”. This feature has now been deleted.

Tweeting about the issue, a former Facebook employee had urged the social media giant to take action.

She said:

Following it being brought to their attention, Facebook released the following statement:

“This was clearly an unacceptable error on Facebook and we disabled the entire topic recommendation feature as soon as we realised this was happening so we could investigate the cause and prevent this from happening again.

“This was an algorithmic error on Facebook and did not reflect the content of the Daily Mail’s post. As we have said, while we have made improvements to our AI we know it’s not perfect and we have more progress to make.

“We apologise to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations and to the Daily Mail for its content being subject to it."

It is not the first time tech giants have been responsible for mistakes of this nature.

In 2015, Google’s Photos app labelled inadvertently pictures of black people as “gorillas”. The company said it was “appalled and genuinely sorry”.

Meanwhile, in May, Twitter admitted racial biases in the way its “saliency algorithm” cropped previews of images.

Over the summer, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were all criticised after black England footballer players were victims of racist abuse on social media after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 finals.

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