Facebook’s brief image outage earlier this week exposed the general public to just how bad accessibility really is in our modern visual-first social Web. While governments and the technology community are investing heavily in AI bias, they care little about accessibility bias.
I don’t use Facebook very much these days, so I heard about the media outage from the outside. And yes, while there have been improvements, and while I’m not placing blame on Facebook’s accessibility team, the accessibility isn’t great even when the AI so-called alt text functionality is working. The best alt text is text which exposes the context of the image being described, and this is down to content creators. This incident is a prime example of why accessibility advocates and consumer organizations should not be using Facebook as their primary distribution platform. If you must use something like Facebook, then you have a responsibility to make the content you host there as accessible as you can by learning how to add alternative text to your images and, (if you’re using Facebook Live), to transcribe that content and host those transcriptions somewhere else until you can make arrangements to use either a different third-party platform or your own platform, otherwise known as your own website.