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Video of Black Men Labeled 'Primates' on Facebook

Social media giant blamed its AI algorithm
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2021 1:24 PM CDT
Facebook Sorry for 'Primates' Label on Video of Black Men
File image of the Facebook logo. The social media giant apologized after its AI labeled video of black men as related to "Primates."   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – Facebook users watching a video of Black men got a prompt asking if they would like to “keep seeing videos about Primates,” the New York Times reported. Facebook called the error “unacceptable.” The prompt was tweeted to Facebook by a former employee, Darci Groves, who called it egregious. A spokeswoman for the social media giant acknowledged that artificial intelligence was at fault. “We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations,” Dani Lever said.

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The video in question is a year-old post from the Daily Mail showing a white man calling the police to a marina and having some Black men arrested. It has nothing to do with monkeys, apes, or archbishops, for that matter. Facial recognition has been called into question for exhibiting a bias against people of color. Facebook says it has disabled its topic recommendation prompts on videos until they figure out what went wrong. They’re going to “investigate the cause and prevent this from happening again,” Lever said, per USA Today. Facebook has said its AI is trained by videos uploaded by users. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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