Friday January 18, 2019
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Microsoft shuts AI-bot after twitteratti teaches it racism

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Microsoft does not offer free meals but subsidises the food.
Microsoft does not offer free meals but subsidises the food. Wikimedia Commons

Racism is the never ending issue and the latest victim is Microsoft, which launched artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot on Twitter for a playful chat with people, only to silence it within 24 hours as users started sharing racist and offensive comments with the bot.

Launched on Twitter as an experiment in “conversational understanding” and to engage people through “casual and playful conversation”, Tay was soon bombarded with racial comments and the innocent bot repeated those comments back with her commentary to users, TechCrunch reported on Friday.

Some of the tweets had Tay referring to Adolf Hitler, denying the Holocaust, supporting Donald Trump’s immigration plans, among others.

Later, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the company is taking Tay off Twitter as people were posting abusive comments to her.

“The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement.

Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways. As a result, we have taken Tay offline and are making adjustments,” the spokesperson said.

Tay — an AI project built by the Microsoft Technology and Research and Bing teams — was coded with information which can tell users jokes or offer up a comment on a picture you send her.

The bot is also designed to personalise her interactions with users.

But Twitter users soon understood that Tay will repeat back racist tweets with her own commentary and they bombarded her with abusive posts.

Microsoft has since deleted some of the most damaging tweets from nearly the 96,000 that Tay tweeted.

However, a website called Socialhax.com made screenshots of several of Tay’s comments before they were removed.

To a question “is Ricky Gervais an atheist?” Tay replied: “Ricky Gervais learned totalitarianism from Adolf Hitler, the inventor of atheism.”

Soon, Tay was seen referring to feminism as a “cult” and a “cancer”, as well as noting “gender equality feminism” and “I love feminism now.” (IANS)

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A Bug in Twitter Exposes Private Tweets of Some Android Users

Twitter is also facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system

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Twitter
New Twitter bug exposed Android users' private tweets. Pixabay

A bug in Twitter exposed private tweets of some Android users for over five years when they made changes in their settings, like changing the email address linked to their accounts.

According to the micro-blogging platform, the bug (now fixed) disabled the “Protect your Tweets” setting if certain account changes were made on Android devices.

The bug didn’t affect people using Twitter on iOS or desktop, Twitter said on Thursday.

“You may have been impacted by this issue if you had protected Tweets turned on in your settings, used Twitter for Android, and made certain changes to account settings such as changing the email address associated with your account between November 3, 2014, and January 14, 2019.

“People on iOS or the web were not impacted. We fixed the issue on January 14, and we’ll provide updates if other important information becomes available,” Twitter said on its Help page.

The company said it has informed those who were affected by the bug, and has turned “Protect your Tweets” back on for them if it was disabled.

Twitter CEO
Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

“We encourage you to review your privacy settings to ensure that your aProtect your Tweets’ setting reflects your preferences,” said Twitter, adding it is sorry that this happened.

In May last year, Twitter asked its 336 million users to change their passwords after it discovered a bug that stored passwords in plain text in an internal system.

Twitter said it found no sign that hackers accessed the exposed data but advised users that they should enter a new password on all services where their current password has been used.

Also Read- Android ‘Q’ Expected to Bring System-wide ‘Dark Mode’

Another bug in Twitter’s platform for third-party app developers exposed some Direct Messages (DMs) from nearly 3 million users to outsiders, the micro-blogging platform admitted in September.

The bug ran from May 2017 and after discovering it, Twitter said it fixed the bug to prevent data from being unintentionally sent to the incorrect developer.

Twitter is also facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system. (IANS)