Amazon’s facial recognition software matched 28 members of the U.S. Congress to criminal mugshots. Donald Trump accused Twitter of liberal bias. And Facebook and its founder had a really bad Thursday.
First up: Trending on Reddit. An American Civil Liberties Union study tested Amazon’s facial recognition system – called Rekognition, with a K – by scanning the faces of all 535 members of congress against 25,000 public mugshots, and received 28 positive matches. And to answer the obvious: no, there were no members of congress among the mugshots submitted. The ACLU said its study raises serious concerns about the use of Rekognition by police, though an Amazon spokesperson contacted by the Verge attributed the results to poor calibration. According to the spokesperson, Rekognition’s default confidence threshold is 80 per cent, but the company recommends a threshold of at least 95 per cent for law enforcement.
Next, on LinkedIn and not Twitter: On Thursday, Donald Trump accused his favourite social media platform of reducing the visibility of certain prominent conservatives:
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
The comments were likely a response to a Vice News report that found Twitter’s search feature did not return prominent conservatives as easily as their Democratic counterparts. Twitter told Vice it was aware of the problem and had fixed it by Thursday afternoon. The company had every reason to: After all, profits have gone up since its most famous user won the 2016 American election. Why change course now?
Finally, trending on both Reddit and LinkedIn: Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his team tried putting a positive spin on their latest quarterly results, which IT World Canada sister site ITBusiness.ca was happy to report, but the rest of the world wasn’t buying it. Facebook’s revenue growth was lower than analysts expected, it lost one million European users, and its user growth in North America was stagnant. As a result, the company lost a record $123 billion USD in value. Zuckerberg himself lost $15.1 billion in Facebook stock. And just in case that wasn’t enough, the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim have accused Zuckerberg of “providing a safe haven for hate” after being hounded by conspiracy theorists on the platform six years after their child was killed.
Because so many of our hosts are on vacation for the next two weeks, we’ve recorded 11 special episodes of Hashtag Trending in advance to run while they’re away. Next week we’ll be sharing some overlooked trending stories, while the week after we’ll run some of our greatest hits. We’ll return with our usual format on Aug. 14.