Facebook founder Mark Mr Zuckerberg said he’s concerned that Covid-19, and therefore the economic fallout, will last longer than people are anticipating (Ge
Facebook founder Mark Mr Zuckerberg said he’s concerned that Covid-19, and therefore the economic fallout, will last longer than people are anticipating (Ge

Facebook and Instagram to study bias against minority groups on their platforms

'Any bias in our systems and policies runs counter to providing a platform for everyone to express themselves', Facebook said

Adam Smith
Wednesday 22 July 2020 12:16
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Facebook and Instagram are creating teams which will study how their products could negatively affect minority groups.

“The racial justice movement is a moment of real significance for our company. Any bias in our systems and policies runs counter to providing a platform for everyone to express themselves”, said Vishal Shah, Instagram's VP of Product.

While we’re always working to create a more equitable experience, we are setting up additional efforts to continue this progress - from establishing the Instagram Equity Team to Facebook’s Inclusive Product Council,” Shah continued in a statement.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal but Facebook has since confirmed the news to The Independent.

The new teams will look at how their features and algorithms are designed, as well as how the company enforces its harassment policies.

Recently, Instagram has been criticised for an algorithm that blocked users posting about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

Users were met with an “action blocked” error message when using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter​, or resharing related posts. Instagram claimed the error was due to its spam filters.

The company’s CEO Adam Mosseri also said it needs to better support the black community with regards to ‘shadowbanning’ and structural bias in Instagram’s filter systems. “We’re committed to looking at the ways our policies, tools, and processes impact Black people and other underrepresented groups on Instagram”, Mosseri said.

Facebook has been criticised for not tackling racism on its platform strongly enough, and is facing a backlash from advertisers as a result, as well as a lawsuit from one of its shareholders.

It was also condemned in a two-year report the company commissioned into itself, saying that there were “serious setbacks” that led to failures on issues including hate speech, misinformation and bias.

The report recommended Facebook build a “civil rights infrastructure” and take more definite action on algorithmic bias. Facebook executives had reportedly previously conducted research to make the site less polarising politically, but no action was taken for fears it would target right-wing users.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, met with civil rights leaders to discuss the company’s issues. Representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Color of Change, Free Press, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said the discussion was a “disappointment” and that Facebook “showed up to the meeting expecting an 'A' for attendance.”

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