Separating Self-Expression and Visual Content in Hashtag Supervision

Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)

By: Andreas Veit, Maximilian Nickel, Serge Belongie, Laurens van der Maaten


The variety, abundance, and structured nature of hashtags make them an interesting data source for training vision models. For instance, hashtags have the potential to significantly reduce the problem of manual supervision and annotation when learning vision models for a large number of concepts. However, a key challenge when learning from hashtags is that they are inherently subjective because they are provided by users as a form of self-expression. As a consequence, hashtags may have synonyms (different hashtags referring to the same visual content) and may be polysemous (the same hashtag referring to different visual content). These challenges limit the effectiveness of approaches that simply treat hashtags as image-label pairs. This paper presents an approach that extends upon modeling simple image-label pairs with a joint model of images, hashtags, and users. We demonstrate the efficacy of such approaches in image tagging and retrieval experiments, and show how the joint model can be used to perform user-conditional retrieval and tagging.