Twitter begins analyzing harmful impacts of its algorithms

The Twitter bird logo in white against a dark background with outlined logos around it and red circles rippling out from it.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter is starting a new initiative, Responsible Machine Learning, to assess any “unintentional harms” caused by its algorithms. A team of engineers, researchers, and data scientists across the company will study how Twitter’s use of machine learning can lead to algorithmic biases that negatively impact users.

One of the first tasks is an assessment of racial and gender bias in Twitter’s image cropping algorithm. Twitter users have pointed out that its auto-cropped photo previews seem to favor white faces over Black faces. Last month, the company began testing displaying full images rather than cropped previews.

The team will also look at how timeline recommendations differ across racial subgroups and analyze content recommendations…

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