Instagram is apparently in the business of making this occasionally callous (but often miraculous) internet existence we all share into a kinder place. Though there is some controversy surrounding how exactly Instagram is aiming to accomplish this, a recent Wired profile produced some compelling insight into the shape of Instagram to come. Namely, they've been testing out the DeepText system using Kanye West lyrics.
But first, what the hell is this "DeepText" shit? DeepText, announced by Facebook last June, is a system based on a machine-learning concept known as "word embeddings." The system—perhaps best described in this sense as a filter—is capable of gaining greater intelligence about words and their context as it consumes more data. Wired's Nicholas Thompson breaks it down this way:
[DeepText is] like the brain of an adult whose entire memory has been wiped and who will now devote themself to whatever linguistic task you assign.
Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom first started putting DeepText to use on Instagram as a way of fighting incessant, annoying spam. After Systrom's team helped DeepText become a master spam fighter, Systrom started pondering the idea of putting DeepText to work on "mean comments." This is an even trickier task, as context is not always easy to detect online, but Systrom committed to the idea and debuted a work-in-progress version of it this June.
For whatever reason, Instagram has been using Kanye West lyrics to test the filter. The most quoted passage from West's "Famous"—starting with "For my southside n****s that know me best" and ending with "I made that bitch famous"—was banned went put through the system. The "Wolves" line "You left your fridge open/somebody just took a sandwich," however, made it through. I'm not exactly sure on what planet the sandwich line would be offensive, but I digress.
The Wired profile dives into the heavy presence of snake emoji on Taylor Swift's Instagram following Kim Kardashian’s release of a Famous-related phone conversation with West. In response, Systrom had his team create a filter that allowed the deletion of specific words and emoji from a feed by user request. Eventually, this inspired the "hide inappropriate comments" feature that Instagram launched in September of last year.
Read the full profile here.