TSU selected as Meta research partner to enhance Instagram experience

By: Texas Southern University Media

Texas Southern University has been selected to be part of the launch of a new research project by Meta. This research, led by Meta’s Civil Rights and Responsible AI Teams, is being done with the goal of creating a better user experience for historically marginalized communities.

This effort will allow Meta to better understand the experiences different communities have on Instagram, how its technology may impact different groups, and what changes can be made to promote fairness on the platform.

“Texas Southern University is proud to join the Meta Civil Rights Team to be positioned at the intersection of technology and urban research.  Our faculty and team members in TSU’s Division of Research and Innovation, along with our other schools and colleges, will collaborate to ensure this partnership is a success to benefit communities of color,” said Michelle Penn-Marshall, VP for Research and Innovation at Texas Southern University.  

TSU is one of four universities and partner institutions included in the research endeavor. The others are Northeastern University (Boston), the University of Central Florida (Orlando), and Oasis Labs. Over the next several months, Instagram users in the United States may be prompted to share their race or ethnicity. If they choose to participate, they’ll be directed to a survey hosted by the international research group YouGov. The responses will be split and shared between four partner institutions, without any identifying information.

“For a long time, we’ve been working to better understand and improve the experiences that people from marginalized communities are having on our apps,” said Roy L. Austin, Jr., VP and Deputy General Counsel, Civil Rights at Meta. “But since it’s always difficult to address something without measuring it first, we’ve partnered with leading researchers, civil rights and academic experts and universities that serve these communities to do exactly that. With those partnerships, we’re rolling out this survey in a privacy protective way as part of our ongoing work to continue building our products more responsibly for everyone who uses them.” 

Users are not required to participate in the survey. Responses will be encrypted and de-identified. Neither TSU, nor any of the other partners institutions will be able to tie responses back to any specific accounts.

For more on this groundbreaking research, visit: https://ai.facebook.com/blog/assessing-fairness-of-our-products-while-protecting-peop

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