It’s Shockingly Easy To Get Around Facebook’s Content Moderation Rules

Facebook loves to tout its ability to detect and remove spam, misinformation, and other offensive content using artificial intelligence. However, a recent report from social media researchers in Australia found that it’s surprisingly easy for motivated users to get around the company’s rules.

The study looked at Facebook content moderation measures such as shadow banning and content labelling during 2020 and 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Facebook announced new rules to crack down on misinformation during that timeframe, many motivated users simply began using code words or emojis to evade detection. Researchers say this simple hack worked well because of Facebook’s fundamental unwillingness to remove misinformation.

“In essence users came together as a community to game the algorithm rather than allowing the algorithm to determine what content they were able to access, and how,” the researchers wrote. “This demonstrates that the success of Meta’s policy to suppress rather than remove misinformation is piecemeal, inconsistent and seemingly unconcerned about susceptible communities and users encountering misinformation.”

Ultimately, Facebook’s business model relies on driving as much engagement as possible. In other words, the company has little financial incentive to solve this problem — which means it likely never will.

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