For a very brief period this week, if you searched “video of…” on Facebook, you may have seen the rest of your search term filled in with disturbing suggestions about child pornography.
This unbelievably upsetting error was corrected within hours, but that wasn’t soon enough to stop dozens of users from sharing screenshots of the incident. Obviously Facebook doesn’t want to associate itself with this type of content, and doesn’t even allow it on its platform, so it’s unclear why this happened in the first place. For its part, Facebook apologized profusely for the problem — while also admitting that its users may actually be searching for those terms.
“We’re very sorry this happened. As soon as we became aware of these offensive predictions we removed them,” the company said. “Facebook search predictions are representative of what people may be searching for on Facebook and are not necessarily reflective of actual content on the platform. We do not allow sexually explicit imagery, and we are committed to keeping such content off of our site.”
Facebook can’t seem to get out of its own way when it comes to policing content. Either it goes too far and gets accused of censorship, or it allows wild mistakes like this to occur. Let’s hope the company can find a middle ground soon — while still following its own rules.