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October 2021
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Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible

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For several years now, we've been beating the idea that content at moderation is impossible to get right, otherwise known as Masnick's Impossibility Theorem. The idea there is not that platforms shouldn't do any form of moderation, or that they shouldn't continue to try to improve the method for moderation. Instead, this is all about expectations setting, partially for a public that simply wants better content to show up on their various devices, but even more so for political leaders that often see a problem happening on the internet and assume that the answer is simply "moar tech!".Being an internet behemoth, Facebook catches a lot of heat for when its moderation practices suck. Several years ago, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had developed an AI-driven moderation program, alongside the claim that this program would capture "the vast majority" of objectionable content. Anyone who has spent 10 minutes on Facebook in the years since realizes how badly Facebook failed towards that goal. And, as it turns out, failed in both directions.By that I mean that, while much of our own commentary on all this has focused on how often Facebook's moderation ends up blocking non-offending content, a recent Ars Technica post on just how much hate speech makes its way onto the platform has some specific notes about how some of the most objectionable content is misclassified by the AI moderation platform.

Facebook’s internal documents reveal just how far its AI moderation tools are from identifying what human moderators were easily catching. Cockfights, for example, were mistakenly flagged by the AI as a car crash. “These are clearly cockfighting videos,” the report said. In another instance, videos livestreamed by perpetrators of mass shootings were labeled by AI tools as paintball games or a trip through a carwash.
It's not entirely clear to me just why the AI system is seeing mass shootings and animals fighting and thinking its paintball or carwashes, though I unfortunately have some guesses and they aren't fun to think about. Either way, this... you know... sucks! If the AI you're relying on to filter out extreme and violent content labels a mass shooting as a trip through the carwash, well, that really should send us back to the drawing board, shouldn't it?It's worse in other countries, as the Ars post notes. There are countries where Facebook has no database of racial slurs in native languages, meaning it cannot even begin blocking such content on the site, via AI or otherwise. Polled Facebook users routinely identify hate on the platform as its chief problem, but the company seems to be erring in the opposite direction.
Still, Facebook’s leadership has been more concerned with taking down too many posts, company insiders told WSJ. As a result, they said, engineers are now more likely to train models that avoid false positives, letting more hate speech slip through undetected.
Which may actually be the right thing to do. I'm not prepared to adjudicate that point in this post. But what we can say definitively is that Facebook has an expectations setting problem on its hands. For years it has touted its AI and human moderators as the solution to the most vile content on its platform... and it doesn't work. Not at scale at least. And outside of America and a handful of other Western nations, barely at all.It might be time for the company to just say so and tell the public and its representatives that this is going to take a long, long while before the company gets this anywhere close to right.

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posted at: 12:00am on 21-Oct-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018)

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Summary: Snapchat debuted to immediate success a decade ago, drawing in millions of users with its playful take on instant messaging that combined photos and short videos with a large selection of filters and "stickers." Stickers are graphics that can be applied to messages, allowing users to punch up their presentations (so to speak).Snapchat’s innovations in the messaging space proved incredibly popular, moving Snapchat from upstart to major player in a few short years. It also created more headaches for moderators as sent messages soared past millions per day to billions.Continuing its expansion of user options, Snapchat announced its integration with Giphy, a large online repository of GIFs, in February 2018. This gave users access to Giphy's library of images to use as stickers in messages.But the addition of thousands of images to billions of messages quickly resulted in an unforeseen problem. In early March of 2018, Snapchat users reported a search of the GIPHY image database for the word "crime" surfaced a racist sticker, as reported by Josh Constine for TechCrunch:

“We first reported Instagram was building a GIPHY integration back in January before it launched a week later, with Snapchat adding a similar feature in February. But it wasn’t long before things went wrong. First spotted by a user in the U.K. around March 8th, the GIF included a racial slur.” — Josh Constine, TechCrunch
Both platforms immediately pulled the plug on the integration while they sorted things out with GIPHY.Company Considerations:
  • What measures can be put in place to prevent moderation problems from moving from one platform to another during cross-platform integration?
  • What steps should be taken prior to launch to integrate moderation efforts between platforms? 
  • What can "upline" content providers do to ensure content moving from their platforms to others meets the content standards of the "downline" platforms? 
Issue Considerations:
  • What procedures aid in facilitating cross-platform moderation? 
  • Which party should have final say on moderation efforts, the content provider or the content user?
ResolutionInstagram was the first to reinstate its connection with GIPHY, promising to use more moderators to examine incoming content from the image site:
“We’ve been in close contact with GIPHY throughout this process and we’re confident that they have put measures in place to ensure that Instagram users have a good experience” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch.
GIPHY offered its own apology for the racist image, blaming the slipup on a bug in its filters. Here's what GIPHY's spokesperson told Gizmodo:
After investigation of the incident, this sticker was available due to a bug in our content moderation filters specifically affecting GIF stickers.
We have fixed the bug and have re-moderated all of the GIF stickers in our library.
The GIPHY staff is also further reviewing every GIF sticker by hand and should be finished shortly.
Snapchat was the last to reinstate its connection to GIPHY, stating it was working directly with the site to revamp both moderation systems to ensure offensive content would be prevented from being uploaded to GIPHY and/or making the leap to connected social media services.Originally published to the Trust & Safety Foundation website.

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posted at: 12:00am on 21-Oct-2021
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