Facebook Still Has A Problem With Hate Speech

Facebook’s AI can’t consistently identify first-person shooting videos, racist rants, and the difference between cockfighting and car crashes. This comes from internal Facebook documents that were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

On hate speech, the documents show, Facebook employees have estimated the company removes only a sliver of the posts that violate its rules – a low-single-digit percent, they say. When Facebook’s algorithms aren’t certain enough that the content violates the rules to delete it, the platform shows that material to users less often – but the accounts that posted the material go unpunished.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a team of Facebook employees concluded that the AI systems were removing posts that generated 3% to 5% of the views of hate speech on the platform, 0.6% of all content that violated Facebook’s policies against violence and incitement.

Engadget reported that “there’s little doubt that Facebook is engaged in some spin”. In testimony, whistleblower Frances Haugen asserted that Facebook can only catch a “very tiny minority” of offending material. According to Engadget, Haugen also alleged that Facebook resisted implementing safer algorithms and other efforts to minimize hateful and divisive distractions.

Facebook’s VP of Integrity, Guy Rosen, posted “Hate Speech Prevalence Has Dropped by Almost 50% on Facebook”. This was published the same day as The Wall Street Journal article. Here is a small portion of that post:

“Data pulled from leaked documents is being used to create a narrative that the technology we use to fight hate speech is inadequate and that we deliberately misrepresent our progress. This is not true. We don’t want to see hate on our platform, nor do our users or advertisers, and we are transparent about our work to remove it. What these documents demonstrate is that our integrity work is a multi-year journey. While we will never be perfect, our teams continually work to build our systems, identify issues and build solutions.”

According to Facebook, the documents that were sent to The Wall Street Journal “misrepresent” what Facebook is doing. Personally, I find it hard to believe that Facebook is telling the truth.