Twitter removed automated image cropping on Android and iOS in May in favour of larger image previews, and the company has now implemented the same solution on its web app.
Users will no longer need to click on an image to view the full-size version. The feature appears to be rolling out to all users immediately. Twitter’s use of algorithmic image cropping to fit images into preview boxes was problematic.
Rumman Chowdhury, a director of software engineering for Twitter’s machine learning ethics, transparency, and accountability team, wrote in a blog post that the company concluded the algorithm was biased after testing it for gender and race-based biases.
Twitter began testing a new method of displaying standard aspect ratio photos in their entirety on iOS and Android in March – meaning without the saliency algorithm crop.
“The goal of this was to give people more control over how their images appear while also improving the experience of people seeing the images in their timeline. After getting positive feedback on this experience, we launched this feature to everyone,” Chowdhury said.
In October 2020, the company received feedback from users that its image cropping algorithm was not equally serving all users.
After several months of testing, Twitter discovered that when men and women were compared, there was an 8% difference in favour of women.
“In comparisons of black and white individuals, there was a 4 per cent difference from demographic parity in favour of white individuals. In comparisons of black and white men, there was a 2 per cent difference from demographic parity in favour of white men,” the findings established.