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Facebook reveals amount of abusive content discovered and removed from site

16 May 2018

The world's largest social network published enforcement numbers for the first time on Wednesday, revealing millions of standards violations in the six months to March.

The numbers were disclosed in a report Tuesday that breakdown how much material Facebook removes for violating service terms.

The social media giant promised the report will be the first of a series seeking to measure how prevalent violations of its content rules are, how much content they remove or otherwise take action on, how much of it they find before it is flagged by users, and how quickly they take action on violations. The company disabled 583 million fake accounts, many within minutes of registration.

Facebook took action against 2.5 million pieces of content in the first quarter, up 56 per cent over the previous quarter.

It took down 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity in Q1 2018 - the company's systems had already flagged 96% before being reported.

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The number of posts on Facebook showing graphic violence rose in the first quarter of this year from the preceding three months, possibly driven by the war in Syria, the company said on Tuesday. This is in addition to the millions of fake account attempts we prevent daily from ever registering with Facebook.

He added that Facebook welcomes feedback to the data.

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. But of the more recent total, only 38 percent was flagged by Facebook before users reported it (an improvement on the 23.6 percent in the prior three months).

He said technology like artificial intelligence is still years from effectively detecting most bad content because context is so important. But users are still reporting the majority of hate-speech posts, or about 62 percent of them, before Facebook takes them down.

"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", said Rosen.

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Nearly 86 percent was found by the firm's technology before it was reported by users.

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?

For years, Facebook has relied on users to report offensive and threatening content.

"Today's report gives you a detailed description of our internal processes and data methodology".

While AI is getting more effective at flagging content, Facebook's human reviewers still have to finish the job.

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Last month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced criticism from civil society groups in Myanmar over how his company failed to detect violent messages from spreading across Facebook Messenger.

Facebook reveals amount of abusive content discovered and removed from site