Facebook has already removed 583 million fake accounts this year

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Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Along with fake accounts, Facebook said in its transparency report that it had removed 21 million pieces of content featuring sex or nudity, 2.5 million pieces of hate speech and nearly 2 million items related to terrorism by Al Qaida and ISIS in the first quarter of 2018.

The problem is that, as Facebook's VP of product management Guy Rosen wrote in the blog post announcing today's report, AI systems are still years away from becoming effective enough to be relied upon to catch most bad content.

The increased transparency comes as the Menlo Park, California, company tries to make amends for a privacy scandal triggered by loose policies that allowed a data-mining company with ties to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign to harvest personal information on as many as 87 million users.

A spokeswoman later said that Facebook blocks "disturbing or sensitive content such as graphic violence" so that users under 18 can not see it "regardless of whether it is removed from Facebook".

Still, while Rosen said its systems leave more to be desired at the moment, Facebook removed 2.5 million pieces of content, 38 percent of which was flagged by its technology.

Facebook also managed to increase the amount of content taken down with new AI-based tools which it used to find and moderate content without needing individual users to flag it as suspicious.


The number of pieces of content depicting graphic violence that Facebook took action on during the first quarter of this year was up 183% on the previous quarter.

In terms of disturbing content, the company's moderation guidelines specifically distinguish between revenge porn, suicidal posts, credible violence, bullying, and more. Which is to say, this doesn't mean that 0.22% of the content posted on Facebook contained graphic violence; just that the graphic content posted accounted for 0.22% of total views.

The company took down 837 million pieces of spam in Q1 2018, almost all of which was flagged before any users reported it.

"Hate speech content often requires detailed scrutiny by our trained reviewers to understand context and decide whether the material violates standards", the company added in the report. "Overall, we estimate that out of every 10,000 pieces of content viewed on Facebook, seven to nine views were of content that violated our adult nudity and pornography standards".

Facebook took action on 1.9 million pieces of content over terrorist propaganda.

It disabled 583 million fake accounts. "Our metrics can vary widely for fake accounts acted on", the report notes, "driven by new cyberattacks and the variability of our detection technology's ability to find and flag them". "We'd also like to see better messaging to users when an action has been taken on their account, so they know the specific violation".

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