Thursday July 19, 2018
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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech for sightless

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform.

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  • A blind Facebook employee is developing AI to make social network for sightless fun
  • He is developing AI which will verbalise images and videos
  • This technology will enable alt-text for images and videos

A blind Facebook employee is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to verbalise the content of an image or video and enable the visually impaired to “see” and determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

Facebook engineer Matt King is leading a project that is making solutions for visually impaired people on the platform that could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

Also Read : Facebook might bring Stories on desktop 

This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters
This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters

“More than two billion photos are shared across Facebook every single day. That’s a situation where a machine-based solution adds a lot more value than a human-based solution ever could,” CNBC quoted King as saying late on Saturday.

King, who was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM with the tech giant’s accessibility projects.

He worked on a screen reader to help visually impaired people “see” what is on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

He worked with the accessibility team till Facebook hired him from IBM in 2015.

The man behind this development is Matt King.
The man behind this development is Matt King.

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues.

“Anybody who has any kind of disability can benefit from Facebook. They can develop beneficial connections and understand their disability doesn’t have to define them, to limit them,” King said.

Also Read : Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

One of his main projects is “automated alt-text,” which describes audibly what is in Facebook images.

When automated alt-text was launched in April 2016, it was only available in five languages on the iOS app. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay
Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay

“The things people post most frequently kind of has a limited vocabulary associated with it,” the Facebook engineer said.

“It makes it possible for us to have one of those situations where if you can tackle 20 per cent of the solution, it tackles 80 per cent of the problem. It’s getting that last 20 per cent which is a lot of work, but we’re getting there,” he said.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos. IANS

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Facebook Accused of Protecting Far-Right Activists Who Broke the Sites Rules

Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the rules set up by the social media giant, the media reported.

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Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the community rules. Pixabay

Moderators at Facebook are protecting far-right activists, preventing their Pages from being deleted even after they violate the rules set up by the social media giant, the media reported.

The process called “shielded review” was uncovered by Channel 4 Dispatches – a documentary series that sent an undercover reporter to work as a content moderator in a Dublin-based Facebook contractor.

“In the documentary, a moderator tells the ‘Dispatches’ reporter that Britain First’s pages were left up, even though they repeatedly broke Facebook’s rules, because ‘they have a lot of followers so they’re generating a lot of revenue for Facebook’,” the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Similarly, popular pages, including those of activists like Tommy Robinson, are protected from Facebook rules.

Robinson is currently in jail, serving a 13-month sentence for contempt of court.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, was quoted as saying in the documentary that the company’s rules are based on revenue.

“If the content is indeed violating it will go,” Allan said.

Facebook, however, said it will remove Robinson’s page if he repeatedly violated the site’s community standards.ABritain First’s Facebook page was eventually banned in March 2018.

“It’s clear that some of what is shown in the programme does not reflect Facebook’s policies or values, and falls short of the high standards we expect.

Facebook
Facebook, social media.Pixabay

“We take these mistakes in some of our training processes and enforcement incredibly seriously and are grateful to the journalists who brought them to our attention,” Allan said.

The documentary also showed that Facebook moderators have turned blind eye to under-age accounts.

“Moderators are told they can only take action to close down the account of a child who clearly looks 10-years-old if the child actually admits in posts they are under-aged,” The Telegraph reported, citing the documentary.

“We have to have an admission that the person is under-age. If not, we just pretend that we are blind and we don’t know what underage looks like,” a trainer told the undercover reporter.

Facebook is also facing the flak for launching Messenger Kids that encourages children under age 13 to join social media.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in December warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

Also read-Facebook Joins Skill India Mission to Train Empower Youth

Early this year, more than 100 child health experts have urged Facebook to withdraw the app.

Despite call for withdrawal by experts, Facebook has decided to expand the reach of Messenger Kids by introducing the video calling and messaging app designed for children under 13 to families in Canada and Peru.

Facebook said it will also introduce Spanish and French versions of the app. (IANS)