Nicolas Kayser-Bril

Reporter

Photo: Julia Bornkessel, CC BY 4.0
Nicolas is data journalist and working for AlgorithmWatch as a reporter. He pioneered new forms of journalism in France and in Europe and is one of the leading experts on data journalism. He regularly speaks at international conferences, teaches journalism in French journalism schools and gives training sessions in newsrooms. A self-taught journalist and developer (and a graduate in Economics), he started by doing small interactive, data-driven applications for Le Monde in Paris in 2009. He then built the data journalism team at OWNI in 2010 before co-founding and managed Journalism++ from 2011 to 2017. Nicolas is also one of the main contributors to the Datajournalism Handbook, the reference book for the popularization of data journalism worldwide.

Articles for AlgoritmWatch

Story, 22 September 2021

YouTube cleaned its ‘news’ section… with content from Axel Springer

A data donation experiment by AlgorithmWatch shows that Welt, a brand of right-wing news conglomerate Axel Springer, largely dominates the official news section.

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Felix Hunger/SZ

Story, 15 September 2021

Instagram algorithm: Süddeutsche publishes results of data analysis

Using thousands of data donations from AlgorithmWatch’s Instagram monitoring browser plug-in, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung showed that posts from the far-right appear higher on users’ timelines.

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Photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

Story, 31 August 2021

LinkedIn automatically rates “out-of-country” candidates as “not fit” in job applications

A feature on LinkedIn automatically rates candidates applying from another EU country as “not a fit”, which may be illegal. I asked 6 national and European agencies about the issue. None seemed interested in enforcing the law.

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YummyBuum / TarikVision / Igor | Adobe Stock

Story, 23 August 2021

How Big Tech Charms and Bullies European Politicians, Journalists and Academics

Google, Facebook and other very large tech companies built a lobbying system that, under the guise of furthering research or journalism, binds intellectuals in a complex network of patronage. Transparency is long overdue.

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Sara Kurfeß Unsplash

Position, 17 August 2021

Twitter’s algorithmic bias bug bounty could be the way forward, if regulators step in

Twitter opened its image cropping algorithm and gave prizes to people who could find biases in it. While interesting in itself, the program mostly reveals the impotence of regulators.

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Erwin Voortman | Unsplash

Position, 27 May 2021

EU Commission asks foxes to stop eating chickens but does not build fence

The European Commission published a "Guidance on Strengthening the Code of Practice on Disinformation" aimed at large tech companies on Wednesday. The wish-list of measures forgoes any enforcement mechanism.

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Arnel Hasanovic | Unsplash

Story, 14 May 2021

Image classification algorithms at Apple, Google still push racist tropes

Automated systems from Apple and Google label characters with dark skins “Animals”.

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Fraktion DIE LINKE |Flickr.com

Story, 6 April 2021

Europeans can’t talk about racist AI systems. They lack the words.

In Europe, several automated systems, either planned or operational, actively contribute to entrenching racism. But European civil society literally lacks the words to address the issue.

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Icons8 | Unsplash

Story, 29 March 2021

Automated translation is hopelessly sexist, but don’t blame the algorithm or the training data

Automated translation services tend to erase women or reduce them to stereotypes. Simply tweaking the training data or the models is not enough to make translations fair.

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Roel Wijnants |flickr

Story, 3 March 2021

Politicians can do well on Instagram. Political posts, less so.

An experiment by AlgorithmWatch, Groene Amsterdammer, Pointer and NOS in the Netherlands shows that Instagram probably prioritizes images of faces and pushes down images that contain text.

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Piero Nigro | Unsplash

Story, 25 February 2021

In Berlin, Google Maps and TomTom encourage car drivers to disregard the law

Routing services from TomTom and Google Maps encourage car drivers to use cycle streets, which is illegal. Both companies said they would update their databases, but this is unlikely to completely solve the problem.

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Story, 1 February 2021

The Insta-mafia: How crooks mass-report users for profit

Groups of teenagers use weaknesses in the notification systems of Facebook and Instagram to take over accounts and harass users. The upcoming DSA regulation addresses the issue but is likely to fall short.

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Story, 19 January 2021

Medical devices using AI/ML are poorly regulated: study

A review of 338 AI-powered medical devices approved in Europe and in the United States reveals holes in the European review process.

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Hartwig HKD | Flickr

Blog, 28 December 2020

The year algorithms escaped quarantine: 2020 in review

Amid the Covid pandemic, governments and corporations stepped up the deployments of automated systems. Civil society initiatives attempted to keep some of them in check.

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foodwatch | Flickr

Story, 14 December 2020

Despite transparency, the Nutri-Score algorithm faces strong resistance

The Nutri-Score summarizes basic nutritional information on a 5-letter scale. Despite its many qualities, it faces a strong backlash that could hold a lesson for operators of automated systems.

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Wynand van Poortvliet | Unsplash

Story, 25 November 2020

Dutch city uses algorithm to assess home value, but has no idea how it works

In a seemingly routine case at the Amsterdam court of appeal, a judge ruled that it was acceptable for a municipality to use a black-box algorithm, as long as the results were unsurprising.

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the blowup |Unsplash

Story, 22 October 2020

Spam filters are efficient and uncontroversial. Until you look at them.

An experiment reveals that Microsoft Outlook marks messages as spam on the basis of a single word, such as “Nigeria”. Spam filters are largely unaudited and could discriminate unfairly.

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Joshua Hoehne | Unsplash

Story, 18 October 2020

Automated discrimination: Facebook uses gross stereotypes to optimize ad delivery

An experiment by AlgorithmWatch shows that online platforms optimize ad delivery in discriminatory ways. Advertisers who use them could be breaking the law.

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Jon Russell |flickr

Story, 17 September 2020

Female historians and male nurses do not exist, Google Translate tells its European users

An experiment shows that Google Translate systematically changes the gender of translations when they do not fit with stereotypes. It is all because of English, Google says

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Jilbert Ebrahimi|Unsplash

Story, 25 August 2020

For researchers, accessing data is one thing. Assessing its quality another.

Online platforms often provide data that is riddled with errors. Rather than launching quixotic attempts at fixing them, researchers increasingly investigate why platforms bias their data.

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Jehyun Sung |Unsplash

Story, 24 August 2020

GPT-3 is a lot of fun, but no game-changer

We usually do not write about newly-released software, especially when there is no way to audit it. But the hype over GPT-3, a natural language generator, was such that several readers asked for a review.

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Thomas Stephan |Unsplash

Story, 13 August 2020

Under the Twitter streetlight: How data scarcity distorts research

As part of our #LeftOnRead campaign, several researchers testified to the reluctance of online platforms to provide useful data. Many resort to studying Twitter, which is more accommodating than most.

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Darth Liu |Unsplash

Story, 6 August 2020

In a quest to optimize welfare management, Denmark built a surveillance behemoth

Udbetaling Danmark was created in 2012 to streamline the payment of welfare benefits. Its fraud control algorithms can access the personal data of millions of citizens, not all of whom receive welfare payments.

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