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Facebook Apologizes After A.I. Puts ‘Primates’ Label on Video of Black Men – The New York Times

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Technology|Facebook Apologizes After A.I. Puts ‘Primates’ Label on Video of Black Men

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/03/technology/facebook-ai-race-primates.html

Facebook called it “an unacceptable error.” The company has struggled with other issues related to race.

Facebook apologized on Friday for mislabeling and said it was looking into its recommendation feature to “prevent this from happening again.”
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Facebook users who recently watched a video from a British tabloid featuring Black men saw an automated prompt from the social network that asked if they would like to “keep seeing videos about Primates,” causing the company to investigate and disable the artificial intelligence-powered feature that pushed the message.

On Friday, Facebook apologized for what it called “an unacceptable error” and said it was looking into the recommendation feature to “prevent this from happening again.”

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The video, dated June 27, 2020, was by The Daily Mail and featured clips of Black men in altercations with white civilians and police officers. It had no connection to monkeys or primates.

Darci Groves, a former content design manager at Facebook, said a friend had recently sent her a screenshot of the prompt. She then posted it to a product feedback forum for current and former Facebook employees. In response, a product manager for Facebook Watch, the company’s video service, called it “unacceptable” and said the company was “looking into the root cause.”

Ms. Groves said the prompt was “horrifying and egregious.”

Dani Lever, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement: “As we have said, while we have made improvements to our A.I., we know it’s not perfect, and we have more progress to make. We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations.”

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Google, Amazon and other technology companies have been under scrutiny for years for biases within their artificial intelligence systems, particularly around issues of race. Studies have shown that facial recognition technology is biased against people of color and has more trouble identifying them, leading to incidents where Black people have been discriminated against or arrested because of computer error.

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In one example in 2015, Google Photos mistakenly labeled pictures of Black people as “gorillas,” for which Google said it was “genuinely sorry” and would work to fix the issue immediately. More than two years later, Wired found that Google’s solution was to censor the word “gorilla” from searches, while also blocking “chimp,” “chimpanzee” and “monkey.”

Facebook has one of the world’s largest repositories of user-uploaded images on which to train its facial- and object-recognition algorithms. The company, which tailors content to users based on their past browsing and viewing habits, sometimes asks people if they would like to continue seeing posts under related categories. It was unclear whether messages like the “primates” one were widespread.

Facebook and its photo-sharing app, Instagram, have struggled with other issues related to race. After July’s European Championship in soccer, for instance, three Black members of England’s national soccer team were racially abused on the social network for missing penalty kicks in the championship game.

Racial issues have also caused internal strife at Facebook. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, asked employees to stop crossing out the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and replacing it with “All Lives Matter” in a communal space in the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters. Hundreds of employees also staged a virtual walkout last year to protest the company’s handling of a post from President Donald J. Trump about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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The company later hired a vice president of civil rights and released a civil rights audit. In an annual diversity report in July, Facebook said 4.4 percent of its U.S.-based employees were Black, up from 3.9 percent the year before.

Ms. Groves, who left Facebook over the summer after four years, said in an interview that a series of missteps at the company suggested that dealing with racial problems wasn’t a priority for its leaders.

“Facebook can’t keep making these mistakes and then saying, ‘I’m sorry,’” she said.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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