Are Facebook's algorithms racist?

Facebook: Internal teams should investigate the racist bias of the algorithm

Like it or not: Facebook, Instagram and Co. have a great responsibility when it comes to making the internet a safe place. In the course of the Black Lives Matter protests, Facebook is now tackling this for its social networks. As The Verge reports, new internal teams have been formed to investigate whether the algorithm is being trained to the detriment of some groups.

Not for the first time: How discriminatory is Facebook's algorithm?

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,

explained Vishal Shah, the vice president of product at Instagram. More than a year ago, Facebook was faced with allegations that showed that targeting on the platform was discriminatory for housing and jobs ads. Facebook recently fell through a civil rights audit and continues to be denounced for being too lax with hate speech and racist content. In the audit, Facebook was asked to investigate and eliminate the possibly racist orientation of its AI-trained software and systems.

One step forward and two back?

The company is often taking steps in the right direction. At the beginning of the protests, Facebook donated ten million US dollars to initiatives that support the black community. The Wall Street Journal reports that 30 percent more people of color will fill management positions in the next five years. But at the same time, Mark Zuckerberg is unimpressed by the allegations of the #StopHateForProfit campaign by companies like Coca-Cola and Disney. They had teamed up to boycott July as an advertising platform via Facebook. This should set an example against Facebook's handling of hate speech and fake news on the platform. Despite the millions that Facebook went through the rags, Zuckerberg was confident: "[...] all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough", he announced to employees and did not want to change anything in the way they deal with hate speech. The internal teams that are now to take a closer look at the algorithm are a further step in the right direction, but how much will ultimately change remains to be seen.


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