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Subscriber active since. Instagram appears to favor pictures of topless creators and bumps those higher on user feeds, a new report from Algorithm Watch has found. Algorithm Watch, a research and advocacy organization focused on algorithmic decision-making, collected data from 26 volunteer Instagram users to see which pictures from a select group of 37 creators were placed highest in their main feeds. It was done using a browser add-on, which automatically opened the Instagram home at regular intervals and analyzed the photos it saw there.
Overall 2, photos from February to May were analyzed. The report also said that without a full audit of Instagram's algorithm — something that Facebook is unlikely to ever allow as it falls under its intellectual property — it's impossible to draw definitive conclusions about what's causing the skew toward topless pictures.
One explanation could be simply that other users are engaging with these pictures more, prompting the algorithm to place them higher in people's feeds. If you and others "like" a photo more, it could appear higher in other people's feeds. The report's authors also refer to a patent from Facebook, Instagram's parent company, which describes a system for analyzing the contents of a picture to determine whether it might be a good candidate for high engagement.
This patent specifically said it would be able to identify people's "state of undress" in photos. It is impossible to say whether the algorithm is simply picking up on the correlation between likes and quasi-nude pictures or whether it has been given the ability to identify seminudity in photos. Facebook has algorithms for spotting nudity, as Instagram bans full nudity and uses such algorithms to take down posts in violation of this rule, but whether these are deployed to rank posts in people's feeds is not certain.
In a tweet, Kayser-Bril suggested that the algorithm could be picking up on the behavior of a minority of Instagram users who use the platform as a source of "soft porn. Responding to the authors of the report, Facebook dismissed the idea that Instagram's algorithm systematically promotes seminude images. A Facebook spokeswoman told Business Insider the company thought the sample sizes used by Algorithm Watch were too small. But whether naked women on instagram algorithm can spot skin in pictures or it's just picking up on a correlation, the effect on people using Instagram to make a living is the same.
For Algorithm Watch, the main issue isn't whether Facebook is intentionally boosting topless pictures; it's about how difficult it is to find out how or why it's happening. Whereas here in this case all we have is our data, which is as we admitted very small, and then there is Facebook saying 'No that's not how it's happening,'" Kayser-Bril said.
Sandra Wachter, an expert in algorithmic fairness at the Oxford Internet Institute, told Business Insider that a lack of intentionality actually makes algorithms more dangerous than human decision-makers, as many discrimination laws require intent to be applicable. Wachter added that, because the algorithm's decision-making processes are obscure and hard to scrutinize, it makes them even worse.
She thinks that professionals who use Instagram to promote their business would have legitimate cause to worry about the platform systematically favoring seminude images. Getting Facebook to investigate and tweak the algorithm wouldn't be without its pitfalls, either, and Wachter says the platform would have to be extremely careful about any unforeseen knock-on effects — an overarching policy on reducing the visibility of semi-clothed images could unfairly disadvantage users marketing swimwear or underwear, for example. It actually requires stepping back and thinking about the possible consequences or the possible policy interventions you could do, and what that actually would mean in practice," she said.
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US Markets Loading H M S In the news. Isobel Asher Hamilton. Instagram's algorithm is more likely to place topless pictures higher in users' news feeds than other photos, according to researchers at Algorithm Watch. The German nonprofit monitored posts from 37 creators from the s of 26 volunteers. Facebook said the data was flawed because it drew only from a small data set. Visit Business Insider's home for more stories. Loading Something is loading. address. Stay up to date with what you want to know.Naked women on instagram
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