On Wednesday (May 5), Twitter rolled out its new image cropping feature, which expands the size of photos on the mobile app. Or, as Twitter said, makes it so there is “no bird too tall” to share on the TL.
Until now, the platform has cropped photos in a 16:9 aspect ratio, but will now show images with standard aspect ratios (16:9, 4:3, 2:1, and 3:4) in full. Images that are extra, extra tall or wide will still be cropped.
The move comes after Twitter’s auto-cropping algorithm was criticised for favouring white faces over Black faces. In September, a number of users tested the algorithm by posting long photos of Black and white people – one example used Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell – and found that Twitter’s crop centred the white person more often.
Speaking to Variety, a Twitter spokesperson said that its new feature “is a direct result of the feedback people shared with us last year that the way our algorithm cropped images wasn’t equitable”.
Although the platform says it hasn’t found any racial bias when testing its machine-learning system, it recognises “that the way we automatically crop photos means there is a potential for harm”.
The spokesperson continued: “We hope that giving people more choices for image cropping and previewing what they’ll look like in the tweet composter may help reduce the risk of harm. Bias in (machine learning) systems is an industry-wide issue, and one we’re committed to improving on Twitter.”
Although the new feature ruins the joy of “open for a surprise”, it has pleased artists, who are now able to share their work in full. Others are celebrating the novel ability to post super long memes.
This week has been a big one for new Twitter features. Also on Wednesday, the platform rolled out prompts to users to review and revise “potentially harmful or offensive” replies to other people’s tweets. In a blog post, Twitter said that its tests found that the prompts encouraged 34 per cent of people to revise or not send their reply.
Then yesterday (May 6), the platform started testing its new ‘Tip Jar’ feature, which enables users to send and receive tips via the likes of PayPal, Bandcamp, and Patreon. Twitter says it won’t take a cut from tips sent to users, and there’s no limit on how much money people can send one another. For now, the feature will just be available for creators, journalists, experts, and non-profits, but will be rolled out to everyone else “soon”.
In the meantime, enjoy a selection of long memes below.