Facebook reports increased action on graphic content

Entrance to Facebook's Menlo Park office

Facebook disabled about 583 million fake accounts in Q1, most of which "were disabled within minutes of registration".

Facebook has faced a storm of criticism for what critics have said was a failure to stop the spread of misleading or inflammatory information on its platform ahead of the USA presidential election and the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, both in 2016.

The social network also scrubbed 837 million pieces of spam and acted on 2.5 million instances of hate speech, it said on Tuesday in its first-ever report on how effectively it's enforcing community standards. "Facebook's community standards generally prohibit content like that, even though there may be some content like warzone violence where we put up warning screens".

In the case of content related to graphic violence, Facebook said those comprised 0.22-0.27% of the content and that the company took action on 3.45 million posts in Q1 versus 1.19 million posts in the previous quarter.

To distinguish the many shades of offensive content, Facebook separates them into categories: graphic violence, adult nudity/sexual activity, terrorist propaganda, hate speech, spam and fake accounts.

"As Mark Zuckerberg said at F8, we have a lot of work still to do to prevent abuse", Guy Rosen, vice president of product management, wrote in a blog post announcing the report.

The social networking giant also said that it disabled 583m fake accounts in the first quarter of the year and now estimates that between 3pc and 4pc of all active accounts during the period were fake.

Facebook's detection technology "still doesn't work that well" in the hate speech arena and needs to be checked by the firm's review workers, Mr Rosen said.

Along with fake accounts, Facebook said in its transparency report that it had removed 21 million pieces of content featuring sex or nudity, 2.5 million pieces of hate speech and nearly 2 million items related to terrorism by Al Qaida and ISIS in the first quarter of 2018.

While artificial intelligence is able to sort through nearly all spam and content glorifying al-Qaeda and ISIS and most violent and sexually explicit content, it is not yet able to do the same for attacks on people based on personal attributes like race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual and gender identity, the company said in its first ever Community Standards Enforcement Report.

"We use a combination of technology, reviews by our teams and reports from our community to identify content that might violate our standards", the report says. "We tend to find and flag less of it, and rely more on user reports, than with some other violation types".

The report and the methods it details are Facebook's first step toward sharing how they plan to safeguard the news feed in the future.

"Yes there are clear skews in many of these metrics", said Schultz. "And it's created to make it easy for scholars, policymakers and community groups to give us feedback so that we can do better over time". To that end, the company is scheduling summits around the globe to discuss this topic, starting Tuesday in Paris.

Representatives will also visit Oxford, England on Wednesday, May 16 and Berlin on May 17. Summits are expected later in the year in India, Singapore and the US.

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