Twitter bans astrophotographer for three months over an “intimate” shot of a meteor

Nov 18, 2022

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Twitter bans astrophotographer for three months over an “intimate” shot of a meteor

Nov 18, 2022

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Can you imagine seeing anything “dirty” in a photo or video of a meteor? Yeah, neither can I. However, Twitter can, and it banned an astrophotographer this August because of that.

Astronomer and astrophotographer Mary McIntyre published a video of a meteor she took during the Perseid meteor shower. Twitter flagged it as “intimate content,” which resulted in banning the photographer for the whole three months!

The Perseid meteor shower is visible from mid-July to late August, and Mary took her photos on 11 August in Oxfordshire, UK, using a Canon 1100D and a kit lens. The meteor she shot left an ionization trail behind, making it quite a sight! “I honestly didn’t expect to see any of those with so much moonlight,” she wrote on Twitter. She posted a short video she composed from a fireball shot and seven subsequent images… And Twitter saw it as something that wasn’t allowed on the platform.

After Twitter flagged her video as “containing intimate content,” her only option was to delete the tweet. If she had accepted, she would have had to agree that she’s broken the rules. “It’s just crazy,” Mary told the BBC. “I don’t really want it on my record that I’ve been sharing pornographic material when I haven’t.”

Since she refused to delete the tweet of the sexy meteor, Twitter “rewarded” her with a three-month ban. She tried to appeal the decision but had no luck. Her account remained visible for three months, but she wasn’t allowed to access it.

“I miss the interaction,” Mary said, adding that she felt “a bit cut off from the astronomy world.” But since the ban was placed in August – she’s now back on the platform.

Speaking with the BBC, tech commentator Kate Bevan said that this was an example of the limitations of AI tools that Twitter and other social media use for content moderation. “AI tools are OK for quick and dirty decisions, but it shows that content moderation at scale is really difficult – both for humans and for the AI tools that are supporting them,” she said. “It’s even worse when there are no humans available to review bad AI decisions. Apart from the unfairness, it means the AI model isn’t getting feedback, so it will never learn to improve.”

This reminded me of my favorite story ever, when an AI tool for detecting explicit content kept flagging photos of deserts as “nudity.” Comments on that article were brilliant (“Send dunes” still cracks me up), but honestly, I can see how AI can identify some dunes as nudes. But I can’t understand how on earth even artificial intelligence can see anything dirty in photos of a meteor. How?! Do you have any idea? Enlighten me in the comments.

[via the BBC]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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12 responses to “Twitter bans astrophotographer for three months over an “intimate” shot of a meteor”

  1. Xystren Avatar
    Xystren

    This reminds me of Google, when they were trying to meta-tag photos via AI, and “gorillas” were being tagged to people that had very dark skin. Rightfully so, there was some outrage.. This, should have never happened, and these social media companies, need to start doing better. Their processes they have in place, are slow, cumbersome, and with “false allegations” (they are allegations as there is no timely due process to contest). Had a human looked at this in a proper timely fashion, they would have seen that the AI messed up (read: &$^ked up royally) to the degree of pure absurdity. Having to admit guilt, serve time, without the ability to contest, and x number of months later, get your access back that should have never been revoked – there is something very wrong. These companies can do better. They need to do better.

  2. John Winters Avatar
    John Winters

    This is a good example of why I deleted my Twitter account!

  3. Sam Z Avatar
    Sam Z

    Twitter AI probably just saw it as a hot, close interaction between two foreign bodies, but the relationship fizzled out quickly, and the break up left one of them in ruins.
    Jokes aside, how can this be banned? I just don’t get it.

    1. Peter Withe Avatar
      Peter Withe

      Now that was funny

  4. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    We can only hope that karma hit the person responsible when Musk purged Twitter.

  5. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    Twitter who?

  6. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    Twitter was never really any good

  7. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    Those pesky algorithms

  8. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    It was this bad before Elon fired most of the content moderators.

    I’m sure it will get worse when there’s almost no actual people to help you

  9. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    Doesn’t matter, Twitter won’t be around in three months…

  10. DIYP community member Avatar
    DIYP community member

    This was before Elon btw

  11. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    Elon is OK with trump (lower case for a reason!) but ban Mrs. McIntyre. 1984 people, 1984…