Facebook struggles to get machines to stamp out hate speech

16 May, 2018, 13:41 | Author: Julian Harrison
  • Facebook struggles to get machines to stamp out hate speech

The report said Facebook has removed or put a warning screen for graphic violence in front of 3.4 million pieces of content in the first quarter, almost triple the 1.2 million a quarter earlier. Facebook's vice president of product management, Guy Rosen, noted that the social network has increased its efforts significantly over the past year and a half, in order to flag and remove content that is inappropriate and derogatory.

Responding to calls for transparency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook yesterday said those closures came on top of blocking millions of attempts to create fake accounts every day.

The report highlights six key areas: fake accounts, spam, adult nudity and sexual activity, graphic violence, terrorist propaganda and hate speech.

Zuckerberg noted that there is still room for improvement with Facebook's AI tools - noticeably flagging hate-speech content. Hate speech is hard to flag using AI because it "often requires detailed scrutiny by our trained reviewers to understand context and decide whether the material violates standards", according to the report.

Facebook also took down 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity in the quarter, 96 percent of which was found and flagged by its technology before it was reported.

However, the social network said this was up from 1.2 million at the end of 2017 and while the majority of the increase was down to improvements in its detection technology, some of the rise is due to an increase in such content appearing on the platform. "We removed 2.5 million pieces of hate speech in Q1 2018 - 38 percent of which was flagged by our technology".




Facebook on Tuesday unveiled for the first time a transparency report that shows an increasing number of posts identified as containing graphic violence in the first of quarter of 2018.

Facebook's policing efforts are aimed at maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere for users and advertisers.

Facebook is struggling to block hate speech posts, conceding its detection technology "still doesn't work that well" and it needs to be checked by human moderators. "While not always ideal, this combination helps us find and flag potentially violating content at scale before many people see or report it". Overall, we estimate that around three to four percent of the active Facebook accounts on the site during this time period were still fake. Providing users with a look into just how much work goes into keeping the social media platform free from those looking to abuse their freedom of speech.

It's also why we are publishing this information.

Facebook said it released the report to start a dialog about harmful content on the platform, and how it enforces community standards to combat it. "This is the same data we use to measure our progress internally - and you can now see it to judge our progress for yourselves". He added that Facebook welcomes feedback to the data.

It claimed to detect nearly 100 percent of spam and to have removed 837 million posts assimilated to spam over the same period.

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