Thursday, 29 November 2018

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter limit data access for AI-powered babysitter background checks

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have limited the amount of data that’s accessible to Predictim, a California-based startup that uses machine learning to vet potential babysitters. The social networks took action against the company after a report by The Washington Post last week detailed its methods, attracting widespread criticism.
Predictim claims to use “advanced artificial intelligence” to judge a babysitter’s suitability. This includes combing through an individual’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter histories before offering an automated assessment of their character. The company claims it can predict whether the individual is a drug user, if they might bully or harass others, and even if they have a “bad attitude.”
Experts have criticized Predictim’s service as unscientific, noting that machine learning is notoriously unreliable when it comes to parsing complex data like human speech. AI might be good at recognizing objects in photos or digitizing handwriting, but it can’t reliably interpret nuances in tone and speech like sarcasm or jokes. Experts in data policy also noted that Predictim’s software doesn’t explain how it comes to its decisions, which means that a potential babysitter could lose a job without ever knowing why or offering an explanation.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all taken action against Predictim over the last few weeks, report The Washington Post and BBC News. Facebook says it dramatically limited the company’s access to user data on Facebook and Instagram after it violated a ban against developers using this information to vet job candidates. Twitter revoked Predictim’s access to its API (which is used to access data on a scale, rather than reading individual profiles) earlier this week. A spokesperson told the Post, “We strictly prohibit the use of Twitter data and APIs for surveillance purposes, including performing background checks.”

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