Facebook says AI has fueled a hate speech crackdown

Facebook says AI has fueled a hate speech crackdown

Facebook says it’s proactively detecting extra hate speech utilizing synthetic intelligence. A brand new transparency report launched on Thursday presents better element on social media hate following coverage adjustments earlier this 12 months, though it leaves some large questions unanswered.

Facebook’s quarterly report consists of new details about hate speech prevalence. The firm estimates that 0.10 to 0.11 p.c of what Facebook customers see violates hate speech guidelines, equating to “10 to 11 views of hate speech for every 10,000 views of content.” That’s primarily based on a random pattern of posts and measures the attain of content material quite than pure put up rely, capturing the impact of vastly viral posts. It hasn’t been evaluated by exterior sources, although. On a name with reporters, Facebook VP of integrity Guy Rosen says the corporate is “planning and working toward an audit.”

Facebook insists that it removes most hate speech proactively earlier than customers report it. It says that over the previous three months, round 95 p.c of Facebook and Instagram hate speech takedowns have been proactive.

Facebook hate speech detection rates over time

Facebook hate speech detection charges over time.
Image: Facebook

That’s a dramatic leap from its earliest efforts — in late 2017, it solely made round 24 p.c of takedowns proactively. It’s additionally ramped up hate speech takedowns: round 645,000 items of content material have been eliminated within the final quarter of 2019, whereas 6.5 million have been eliminated within the third quarter of 2020. Organized hate teams fall into a separate moderation class, which noticed a a lot smaller improve from 139,900 to 224,700 takedowns.

Some of these takedowns, Facebook says, are powered by enhancements in AI. Facebook launched a analysis competitors in May for techniques that may higher detect “hateful memes.” In its newest report, it touted its means to investigate textual content and footage in tandem, catching content material just like the picture macro (created by Facebook) beneath.


This macro created by Facebook illustrates hate speech that should be detected by analyzing photos alongside textual content.
Image: Facebook

This strategy has clear limitations. As Facebook notes, “a new piece of hate speech might not resemble previous examples” as a result of it references a new pattern or information story. It relies on Facebook’s means to investigate many languages and catch country-specific developments, in addition to how Facebook defines hate speech, a class that has shifted over time. Holocaust denial, as an example, was solely banned final month.

It additionally received’t essentially assist Facebook’s moderators, regardless of latest adjustments that use AI to triage complaints. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted Facebook’s regular moderation practices as a result of it received’t let moderators evaluation some extremely delicate content material from their houses. Facebook mentioned in its quarterly report that its takedown numbers are returning “to pre-pandemic levels,” partly because of AI.

But some workers have complained that they’re being compelled to return to work earlier than it’s secure, with 200 content material moderators signing an open request for higher coronavirus protections. In that letter, moderators mentioned that automation had failed to deal with critical issues. “The AI wasn’t up to the job. Important speech got swept into the maw of the Facebook filter — and risky content, like self-harm, stayed up,” they mentioned.

Rosen disagreed with their evaluation and mentioned that Facebook’s workplaces “meet or exceed” secure workspace necessities. “These are incredibly important workers who do an incredibly important part of this job, and our investments in AI are helping us detect and remove this content to keep people safe,” he mentioned.

Facebook’s critics, together with American lawmakers, will seemingly stay unconvinced that it’s catching sufficient hateful content material. Last week, 15 US senators pressed Facebook to deal with posts attacking Muslims worldwide, requesting extra country-specific details about its moderation practices and the targets of hate speech. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the corporate’s moderation practices in a Senate listening to, indicating that Facebook would possibly embrace that information in future stories. “I think that that would all be very helpful so that people can see and hold us accountable for how we’re doing,” he mentioned.

Zuckerberg prompt that Congress ought to require all internet corporations to observe Facebook’s lead, and coverage enforcement head Monika Bickert reiterated that concept immediately. “As you talk about putting in place regulations, or reforming Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act] in the United States, we should be considering how to hold companies accountable for acting on harmful content before it gets seen by a lot of people. The numbers in today’s report can help inform that conversation,” Bickert mentioned. “We think that good content regulation could create a standard like that across the entire industry.”

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