Twitter Improves Image Cropping Process to Better Focus on Key Areas of Attention

Ever post a photo to Twitter only to have it look odd and incomplete when it comes up in tweet timelines, maybe focused on the wrong area of the image?

That’s because Twitter crops images to improve display consistency, and thus far, they’ve been using face detection to focus the view on the key element when displaying a tweet image. But that process has some limitations – as explained by Twitter:

“While this is not an unreasonable heuristic, the approach has obvious limitations since not all images contain faces. Additionally, our face detector often missed faces and sometimes mistakenly detected faces when there were none. If no faces were found, we would focus the view on the center of the image. This could lead to awkwardly cropped preview images.”

That’s not great, particularly if you’re, say, a professional organization trying to put your best foot forward in your presentation.

But Twitter’s improving it – here’s a comparison of Twitter’s current (left) and new image cropping system, which uses neural networks to predict the most interesting part of the image.

Twitter Improves Image Cropping Process to Better Focus on Key Areas of Attention | Social Media Today


The new system will focus on ‘salient’ regions of an image.

“A region having high saliency means that a person’s likely to look at it when freely viewing the image. Academics have studied and measured saliency by using eye trackers, which record the pixels people fixated with their eyes. In general, people tend to pay more attention to faces, text, animals, but also other objects and regions of high contrast. This data can be used to train neural networks and other algorithms to predict what people might want to look at.”

Using this process, Twitter's established a new way to quickly utilize this system to identify the likely focus of each image, enabling a much-improved image cropping process.

Twitter Improves Image Cropping Process to Better Focus on Key Areas of Attention | Social Media Today


It’s a small improvement, but an important one – particularly, as noted, as an organization that’s looking to put forward a professional representation of their business.

The new Twitter image updates are currently in the process of being rolled out to everyone on twitter.com, iOS and Android. 

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