As the largest social media platform in the world, Facebook has a nearly impossible task when it comes to keeping up with the graphic and offensive content shared on its platform. Another tragic instance of this trouble occurred late last week, when a suspected terrorist live-streamed a mass murder at a New Zealand mosque on Facebook. According to the company, it removed 1.5 million instances of the video over the first 24 hours — though that still hasn’t completely eradicated it from the site.
Thankfully, Facebook removed about 1.2 million of the videos at upload, meaning no one ever saw them. However, the massive scale at which this video went viral just underlines how hard it is for Facebook to police itself. The company wants to rely on artificial intelligence to do the dirty work, but according to experts, the technology is still a long way from being effective.
“We are years away from being able to do the sophisticated, nuanced things that humans do very well,” Hany Faried, a Dartmouth professor and expert in digital forensics, told CNN. Faried also said that machines “can’t even tell the difference between broccoli and marijuana, let alone if a video is of a movie, or a videogame, or documenting war crimes, or is a crazy guy killing people in a mosque.”
Even when Facebook acts with the best intentions, it has a hard time cleaning up its platform. And the most disheartening part is that, with its size, this may always be the case.
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