Facebook has apologized after the networking site’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology mislabeled a video of black men arguing with white police officers and civilians as “about primates.”
Social media users who had watched the video were asked afterwards if they wanted to “continue to see videos about primates.” The video was published by the Daily Mail.
“This was clearly an unacceptable mistake,” Facebook spokesman Dani Lever said in a statement to USA Today. “We disabled the topic recommendation feature as soon as we become aware so that we can investigate the cause and avert this from happening again.
While we’ve made improvements to our AI, we know it’s not perfect and needs improvement. Our apologies to anyone who saw these offensive recommendations.”
The event is the latest in a series of racial bloopers online, caused by what appears to be racial bias in automatic systems. For example, according to topical studies, facial recognition technology can be biased towards people of colour and typically have more difficulty identifying them.
It has led to incidents where black people have been discriminated against or arrested because of a computer error.