More than ever, Facebook is under pressure to prove that its algorithms are being deployed responsibly.
On Wednesday, at its F8 developer conference, the company revealed that it has formed a special team and developed discrete software to ensure that its artificial intelligence systems make decisions as ethically as possible, without biases.
Facebook, like other big tech companies with products used by large and diverse groups of people, is more deeply incorporating AI into its services. Facebook said this week it will start offering to translate messages that people receive via the Messenger app. Translation systems must first be trained on data, and the ethics push could help ensure that Facebook's systems are taught to give fair translations.
"We'll look back and we'll say, 'It's fantastic that we were able to be proactive in getting ahead of these questions and understand before we launch things what is fairness for any given product for a demographic group,'" Isabel Kloumann, a research scientist at Facebook, told CNBC. She declined to say how many people are on the team.
Facebook said these efforts are not the result of any changes that have taken place in the seven weeks since it was revealed that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica misused personal data of the social network's users ahead of the 2016 election. But it's clear that public sentiment toward Facebook has turned dramatically negative of late, so much so that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to sit through hours of congressional questioning last month.
Every announcement is now under a microscope.