Facebook's AI makes little headway in the fight against hate speech

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionWATCH Facebook reveals scale of abuse

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWATCH Facebook reveals scale of abuse

Facebook released its Community Standards Enforcement Preliminary Report on Tuesday, providing a look at the social network's methods for tracking content that violates its standards, how it responds to those violations, and how much content the company has recently removed.

Why the numbers matter: The report gives us a picture of the sheer quantity of content Facebook's software and human moderators are churning through. The company will continue publishing reports about the content they removed every six months. That means as many as 88 million fake Facebook accounts were still slipping through the cracks in the company's policing system through March.

In its first public release of such data, Facebook said that of every 10,000 pieces of content viewed on the social platform in the first quarter, an estimated 22 to 27 pieces contained graphic violence, up from an estimate of 16 to 19 late a year ago, Reuters reports.

Facebook also took down 837 million pieces of spam in Q1, nearly all of which were identified and flagged before anyone reported them.

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 technology did a better job of finding graphic violence and automatically identified 86% of the 3.5 million pieces of that kind of content that was removed during the period.

"It's a work in progress always", Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of product management, said in a briefing.

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However, messages inciting hatred, the robot can distinguish much more hard - a computer's intelligence does not understand the cultural and contextual features, so in this category, Facebook is largely dependent on staff moderators. For every 10,000 views of content on Facebook, the company said, roughly 8 of them were removed for featuring sex or nudity in the first quarter, up from 7 views at the end of a year ago. Facebook said more than 98 percent of the accounts were caught before users reported them.

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.

"For example, artificial intelligence isn't good enough yet to determine whether someone is pushing hate or describing something that happened to them so they can raise awareness of the issue".

If a Facebook user makes a post speaking about their experience being called a slur in public, using the word in order to make a greater impact, does their post constitute hate speech? But only 38 percent had been detected through Facebook's efforts - the rest flagged up by users.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg faced several questions during his April congressional testimony about content removal.

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