Problems with Twitter’s automated image cropping came up in September. It became clear that Twitter’s image-cropping algorithm defaulted to preview white faces:
— Colin, scholar in residence since Mar 17/20 (@colinmadland) September 19, 2020
In response to this, Twitter publicly announced that work needs to be done to reduce racial bias and improve how images are displayed.
We saw your Tweets about the harm caused by how images are cropped on Twitter.
Today we’re sharing how we test for bias in our systems, and how we plan to rely less on auto-cropping and give you more choice in how images appear in Tweets:
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 1, 2020
Twitter acknowledged that the way the platform is programmed to automatically crop preview images could increase harm. It acknowledged it could reduce the visibility of the range of people who use Twitter. At the beginning of October, Twitter announced that it is working to limit its reliance on machine learning-based image cropping and give Twitter users more control over the Twitter image preview.
Moving forward, Twitter says: “We hope that giving people more choices for image cropping and previewing what they’ll look like in the Tweet composer may help reduce the risk of harm.”