The recent outage effecting Facebook and other social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram has definitely caused a worldwide stir among its users. Well, nothing to worry as the following content will help you to understand the cause of this Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram outage.
Facebook’s Recent Outage Shows How the Platform’s AI Tags Photos
First of all, let’s start with the explanation of what happens during an outage situation. Consider a situation where you decide to browse through your old uploaded photos on Facebook, unfortunately instead of seeing the actual photos or snaps from the various occasions, holidays, gatherings etc., you will be shown or prompted with texts like- “image may contain: cat”, “image may contain: people dancing, drinking” etc. Well, let me tell you this is how the computer interprets your uploaded photos. This is how Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence judges you.
Similar tags are showing up on Instagram as well. The only difference is that on Instagram there are details of the photo and it also prompts suggestion on who is in the concerned photo. This suggestion is based on Facebook’s facial recognition. Facebook has been doing this process of using machine learning to read images in the same manner since April 2016. In fact, this project is a huge part of company’s accessibility efforts, as well as the tags, are used to describe photos or videos to users who are visually impaired.
As per DownDetector, a website which monitors website and app issues, various users all around the world reports of the outage incident, but it was Europe and North America where maximum cases were reported. No one was spared, from individuals, businesses to organizations working locally or internationally.
A similar situation was experienced earlier this year when an outage lasted for as long as 24 hours. It was believed to be the worst ever outage for Facebook, which connected about 2.7 million people worldwide with its core social network, message applications and Instagram as well.
The biggest question which arises among its users who have to face this outage is that whether Facebook uses this information to target ads or there is some other reason behind it, for example, the one quoted by Facebook during these outages- that “it occurred due to an error triggered during the routine maintenance operation.” Whatever may be the reason, there is no denying of the fact that there is a lot of personal data contained in our photos that are uploaded on various social networking sites, and it can be extracted easily by AI this way.
Is there another agenda behind this outage?
Obviously, there are various details of one’s personal life which he/she would want to protect or shield from Facebook and other social networking platforms (which are often contained in the images, videos, posts present on timeline or user account). This information can range from hobbies to user’s favorite holiday destination, anything and everything can be spotted. There are efforts made to reach out to Facebook in order confirm the cause of this outage and to address the main question that whether they are using this data for as targeting or not.
Well, whatever may be the real agenda behind this Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram outage, or regardless of how the information is being used, it makes us realize a very important fact that visual world has definitely become machine readable and accessible.
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