Facebook and Instagram are working on new internal teams dedicated to studying and addressing potential racial bias in different minority groups.
The new teams across the two platforms will examine how Black, Hispanic and other minority users in the U.S. are affected by the company’s algorithms, including its machine-learning systems, and how those effects compare with white users.
Facebook and Instagram have both in the recent past faced serious criticism over how their products impact people of different races and ethnicities. In May last year, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook, accusing it of illegally encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination with its ad-targeting tools. Which prompted major civil rights groups to call for advertisers to boycott Facebook and Instagram over their hate speech policies.
“The racial justice movement is a moment of real significance for our company. Any bias in our systems and policies runs counter to providing a platform for everyone to express themselves,” Vishal Shah, the vice president of product for Instagram, said in a statement, while we’re always working to create a more equitable experience, we are setting up additional efforts to continue this progress from establishing the Instagram Equity Team to Facebook’s Inclusive Product Council.”
Last month, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri pledged to overhaul how the company tries to solve problems that Black and other underrepresented groups face on the platform. Harassment, account verification, distribution, and algorithmic bias are some of the areas he thinks Instagram needs to improve on to better serve Black users.
Mosseri wrote. “We’ve done a lot of work to better understand the impact our platform has on different groups, and that’s helped us get to where we are today. But I think there’s more to do across some key areas, which fit into our broader company commitments.”
Facebook has pledged to donate $200 million to support black-owned businesses in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the country. The company also said last month it plans to boost the percentage of Black and other underrepresented minorities composing ts leadership team by 30 per cent over the next five years, as well as trying to double the number of Black and Hispanic employees by 2023.