Facebook Reports Gains in Removing Objectionable Content

Fecha : 13/11/2019 @ 18:24
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Facebook Reports Gains in Removing Objectionable Content

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By Jeff Horwitz 

Facebook Inc. reported gains in detecting hate speech, child-abuse imagery and terrorist propaganda on its platforms, arguing that its willingness to publish statistics on the removal of objectionable content shows its commitment to transparency.

"The systems we've built for addressing these issues are more advanced than what any other company has," Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday, adding that other internet companies have avoided making similar disclosures because "they don't want to admit they have a problem too."

The Facebook co-founder was unusually blunt in his criticism of other internet and social-media platforms on a call with reporters, but he didn't specifically name any competitors nor say where their detection efforts and disclosure fall short.

Facebook, Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Twitter Inc. are among large social-media companies that release reports aimed at giving the public a window into their businesses. These firms have responded to persistent complaints about illegal and offensive content on their platforms by providing metrics to judge their progress in removing it, sometimes before it gets flagged by users.

Facebook's enforcement report shows the volume of problematic content it hosts remains staggering, with more than 12 million pieces of child nudity or sexual-abuse content alone being removed from the main Facebook platform and Instagram during the September quarter. But the company said the actual frequency with which such material is viewed is so small that it can't be reliably measured, with such posts accounting for less than 0.04% of what users actually saw.

The report marked the first time the company reported content-enforcement statistics for Instagram, which is significantly less successful than the Facebook platform at detecting terrorist propaganda, child exploitation and self-harm content before it is reported by users.

On Facebook, all but 3% of suicide and self-harm content is removed from the platform without reports from users, the company said. Instagram users are still responsible for flagging 21% of similar content that is eventually removed.

Vishal Shah, Instagram's head of product, said the disparity partially reflects Facebook having more mature artificial intelligence systems, and he pledged Instagram would make gains over time.

Facebook also touted its progress this year in removing posts that violate its policy barring illicit firearm and drug sales. It said about 6.7 million pieces of such content was removed from Facebook in the most recent quarter, up from nearly 1.5 million in the first quarter.

Facebook has faced criticism over its Marketplace operations in connection with gun sellers being able to dodge prohibitions designed to end such activity.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and international officials in recent months have criticized Facebook's plan to roll out encrypted messaging across its services, a step that would make it harder for either the company or law enforcement to monitor for illegal activities.

Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged "real tension" between encryption and safety. At the same time, he said Facebook should be credited for helping make society safer by doing a better job of policing the company's platforms.

Write to Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 13, 2019 19:09 ET (00:09 GMT)

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