Facebook and Instagram were hit by massive outages and weren’t functioning properly on Wednesday — and the apps started showing what appeared to be AI-generated captions of people’s photographs.
These captions are basic descriptions of what’s in the picture, including how many people it might include, what they’re doing, basic objects, and where it was taken.
Facebook and Instagram have not yet responded to requests for comment.
The ability to scan images via machine learning is a big focus for Facebook across its family of apps. Facebook has been generating alternative text for users with vision impairments since 2015. In 2017, it updated its alternative text tools to more accurately scan people’s photos.
People were not happy learning about what autogenerated intel Facebook and Instagram created about their photos.
It also leads to some uncomfortable questions about how advertisers might be using data scraped from people’s photographs.
Both apps had to use their Twitter accounts Wednesday to alert users to the overall issue, though there was no clarity about the resulting descriptions.