Since the dawn of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat among others, racial bias particularly against Black People has been woven into its ‘DNA.’
Racial Bias on social media- Facebook
Facebook has since apologized for the error stating “It was clearly an unacceptable error.”
“We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations,” a representative told the BBC.
“We disabled the entire topic-recommendation feature as soon as we realized this was happening so we could investigate the cause and prevent this from happening again.”
“As we have said while we have made improvements to our AI, we know it’s not perfect and we have more progress to make.”Facebook representative further told the BBC.
In mid-2019, Facebook researchers stated that they were studying a new set of algorithms that Instagram uses to remove accounts for bullying and other infractions. According to the research, Black users of Instagram in the United States alone were about 50% more likely under the algorithm to have their accounts automatically disabled than white users.
Shadow-banning which is the act of limiting the places that content appears on a platform, without the user realizing has been one of the tools used by some social media platforms to suppress the voice of Black Creators. This constant barrage of discriminatory actions inhibits Black creators from attaining the height of their content or business goals compared to their White colleagues.
In July last year, Facebook noted that it was creating teams to examine potential racial bias in algorithms and products used by the social network and Instagram, however, the problem seems to persist to this day.
Racial Bias on social media
Other social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat also have biased algorithms that inhibit Black creators from sharing their content.
Also, in June of last year, for instance, Tik Tok apologized to Black creators for suppressing their content particularly surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We want you to know that we hear you and we care about your experiences on TikTok.
We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported or suppressed. We don’t ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly,” Tik Tok said in a statement.
Twitter’s saliency algorithm which was released in 2018 to crop images was also biased in that it favoured white individuals over black individuals. Under the algorithm, anytime an individual posted a picture of a black individual and a white individual, Twitter’s preview consistently showed the white man over the black man, no matter which photo was added to the tweet first. A test was later conducted by Titter to determine the bias, the following were the results.
• A 4% difference favouring white people over black people of both sexes
• A 7% difference favouring white women over black women
• A 2% difference in favour of white men over black men
In addition to the above, the test also revealed the algorithm favoured women to men (8% difference in favour of women over men)
The company has since rectified its algorithm’s bias.