Facebook outage gave a glimpse at how its AI analyses images

Facebook outage gave a glimpse at how its AI analyses images
Ryan is an editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter: @Gadget_Ry


Facebook’s issue displaying images yesterday gave users an interesting look at how the social media giant’s AI analyses their uploads.

An outage yesterday meant Facebook users were unable to see uploaded images, providing a welcome respite from the usual mix of food and baby photos. In their place, however, was some interesting text.

Text in the placeholder where the image should have been displayed showed how Facebook’s AI automatically tagged the images.

Some of the aforementioned tags were understandable, like “one person, beard”. Other tags – such as a group of women standing together being tagged as “hoes” – were more questionable.

Facebook says it uses machine learning for tagging the images and reading the description to blind users. It’s unclear if there were “hoes” in terms of the farming tool in the image – but I don’t know how often even one is in a group photo, let alone plural.

Techies like many of our readers know Facebook is analysing photos to further understand each user, primarily for advertising purposes. Yesterday’s outage, however, will have opened more of the public’s eyes to how each of their uploads are being analysed and data extracted.

Shout-out to the person who uploaded a photo of their baby only for Facebook to categorise it as “Image may contain: dog”.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and their use cases? Attend the co-located AI & Big Data Expo events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more. Co-located with the IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo.

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