Twitter has found a potential solution to its problematic image cropping issue. The company is working on fixing the problem by no more cropping the pictures.
As per The Verge, the company said on Wednesday that it is now testing a “what you see is what you get” image preview within the tweet compose box and experimenting with showing full-frame images.
So the pictures in the Twitter timeline look just like when the user was tweeting. “Now testing on Android and iOS: when you Tweet a single image, how the image appears in the Tweet composer is how it will look on the timeline — bigger and better,” the company wrote in its announcement tweet, confirming the news.
Twitter also said that it is testing a new 4K image uploading on Android and iOS as part of a broader push “to improve how you can share and view media on Twitter.”
With the new image preview change, there should be fewer algorithmic surprises — like the ones several users brought attention to last fall that showed how the company’s automated cropping tool quite often favoured white faces over Black ones.
In many of those cases, irregularly sized images shared on Twitter were automatically cropped behind the scenes using an AI-powered algorithm, but in ways that raised some troubling questions about how the software prioritized skin colour and other factors.
According to The Verge, Twitter at that time said the neural network it uses for automated image cropping was tested for racial bias, and the company claims it found none. But it also admitted that it needed to perform more analysis and refine its approach to avoid situations like this where even the appearance of bias was a possibility.
Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief technology officer, later wrote a blog post delving into the issue at length, saying at that time that Twitter would be conducting “additional analysis to add further rigour to our testing” and that it was “committed to sharing our findings and exploring ways to open-source our analysis so that others can help keep us accountable.”
Going by the new feature being tested, it looks like Twitter’s proposed solution is here, at least in a test phase.
While tweets in standard aspect ratios will be identical when previewed in the compose window and displayed in the timeline, Twitter’s design chief Dantley Davis said extra-wide or tall images will be centre cropped for those included in the test.
However, Twitter has not shared any concrete timeline for when this change may be live for all users.