May 21, 2018

Hate speech, violence floods Facebook

16 May 2018, 01:41 | Melvin Schneider

Facebook's latest transparency move is showing you how much objectionable content it removes

Facebook remove more than 20 million pieces of adult nudity or pornography in three months

Facebook said Tuesday it took down 21 million "pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity" in the first quarter of 2018, and that 96 percent of that was discovered and flagged by the company's technology before it was reported.

Facebook's renewed moderation effort of almost 1.5 billion accounts has resulted in 583 million fake accounts being closed in the first three months of this year, according to The Guardian. "This increase is mostly due to improvements in our detection technology", the report notes.

The new report was released in conjunction with Facebook's latest Transparency Report, which said that across the world government requests for account data increased by four percent in the second half of 2017 compared to the first half. For instance, Alex Schultz, the company's vice-president of data analytics, said the amount of content moderated for graphic violence nearly tripled quarter-on-quarter.

These releases come in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has left the company battling to restore its reputation with users and developers - though employees have said the decision to release the Community Standards was not driven by recent events.

Last week, Alex Schultz, the company's vice president of growth, and Guy Rosen, vice president of product management, walked reporters through exactly how the company measures violations and how it intends to deal with them.

In its first quarterly Community Standards Enforcement Report, Facebook said the overwhelming majority of moderation action was against spam posts and fake accounts: it took action on 837m pieces of spam, and shut down a further 583m fake accounts on the site in the three months.

Most of the content was found and flagged before users had a chance to spot it and alert the platform.

This led to old as well as new content of this type being taken down.

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And backing up the company's AI tools are thousands of human reviewers who manually pore over flagged content, trying to determine if it violates Facebook's community standards.

Facebook's technology is good at removing nudity and violence, but not at removing hate speech.

Facebook "took action" on 3.4 million pieces of content that contained graphic violence.

Now, however, artificial intelligence technology does much of that work.

The company has been using artificial intelligence to help pinpoint the bad content, but Rosen said the technology still struggles to understand the context around a Facebook post pushing hate, and one simply recounting a personal experience.

Several categories of violating content outlined in Facebook's moderation guidelines - including child sexual exploitation imagery, revenge porn, credible violence, suicidal posts, bullying, harassment, privacy breaches and copyright infringement - are not included in the report. That doesn't include what Facebook says are "millions" of fake accounts that the company catches before they can finish registering.

Facebook says AI has played an increasing role in flagging this content. During Q1, Facebook found and flagged 98.5% of fake accounts it ultimately took action against before any user reported them. "While not always flawless, this combination helps us find and flag potentially violating content at scale before many people see or report it".

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