Facebook AI Mistakenly Labels Black Men as 'Primates'

The tech giant issued an apology and disabled the recommendation feature.

Tech News
1 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Image used for representational purposes.</p></div>

Social media giant Facebook issued an apology after their artificial intelligence (AI) based topic recommendation feature labelled black men in a video as 'primates'.

A few users of the platform who watched a video dated 27 June 2020 by British tabloid Daily Mail showing black men in an altercation with white police officers, saw a recommendation prompt asking whether they would like to continue watching videos related to primates.

A screenshot of the prompt was shared by designer Darci Groves on 2 September, a former Facebook employee, who called it "unacceptable" and "egregious".

Responding to an enquiry by news agency AFP, a Facebook spokesperson apologised to anyone who may have come across the offensive recommendation.

“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,” they said.


Speaking to The New York Times, spokesperson Dani Lever apologised for the recommendation, noting that while the company has made improvements to their AI, they are aware that "it's not perfect" and that they "have more progress to make".

Civil rights activists have time and again criticised tech companies, including Google, for racial biases in their facial recognition software.

(With inputs from The New York Times)

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