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Child Nudity Tackles By Facebook By Removing Posts

NCMEC said it is working with Facebook to develop software to decide which tips to assess first.

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A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo in this photo illustration. VOA
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Facebook Inc said on Wednesday that company moderators during the last quarter removed 8.7 million user images of child nudity with the help of previously undisclosed software that automatically flags such photos.

The machine learning tool rolled out over the last year identifies images that contain both nudity and a child, allowing increased enforcement of Facebook’s ban on photos that show minors in a sexualized context.

A similar system also disclosed Wednesday catches users engaged in “grooming,” or befriending minors for sexual exploitation.

Facebook’s global head of safety Antigone Davis told Reuters in an interview that the “machine helps us prioritize” and “more efficiently queue” problematic content for the company’s trained team of reviewers.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

The company is exploring applying the same technology to its Instagram app.

Under pressure from regulators and lawmakers, Facebook has vowed to speed up removal of extremist and illicit material.

Machine learning programs that sift through the billions of pieces of content users post each day are essential to its plan.

Machine learning is imperfect, and news agencies and advertisers are among those that have complained this year about Facebook’s automated systems wrongly blocking their posts.

Davis said the child safety systems would make mistakes but users could appeal.

“We’d rather err on the side of caution with children,” she said.

Facebook, Child nudity
A protester wearing a mask with the face of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is flanked by two fellow activists wearing angry face emoji masks, during a protest against Facebook policies, in London, Britain (From archives) VOA

Facebook’s rules for years have banned even family photos of lightly clothed children uploaded with “good intentions,” concerned about how others might abuse such images.

Before the new software, Facebook relied on users or its adult nudity filters to catch child images. A separate system blocks child pornography or child nudity that has previously been reported to authorities.

Facebook has not previously disclosed data on child nudity removals, though some would have been counted among the 21 million posts and comments it removed in the first quarter for sexual activity and adult nudity.

Facebook said the program, which learned from its collection of nude adult photos and clothed children photos, has led to more removals. It makes exceptions for art and history, such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a naked girl fleeing a Vietnam War napalm attack.

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Facebook’s head of global safety policy Antigone Davis speaks during an event at the White House. VOA

Protecting minors

The child grooming system evaluates factors such as how many people have blocked a particular user and whether that user quickly attempts to contact many children, Davis said.

Michelle DeLaune, chief operating officer at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), said the organization expects to receive about 16 million child porn tips worldwide this year from Facebook and other tech companies, up from 10 million last year.

With the increase, NCMEC said it is working with Facebook to develop software to decide which tips to assess first.

Still, DeLaune acknowledged that a crucial blind spot is encrypted chat apps and secretive “dark web” sites where much of new child pornography originates.

Also Read: Facebook Rolls Out A Simplified Version Of Messenger

Encryption of messages on Facebook-owned WhatsApp, for example, prevents machine learning from analyzing them.

DeLaune said NCMEC would educate tech companies and “hope they use creativity” to address the issue. (VOA)

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Facebook Seeking To Patent a Software To Build User’s Profile

Around 29 million Facebook accounts were hacked in September

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Facebook seeks to patent software to analyse who lives with you. Pixabay

Despite facing flak for leakage of personal data of millions of its users in recent times, Facebook is seeking to patent a software that could help it build profile of an user’s household – the number of people in the household, the interests that they share, nature of their relationships or even the devices that they use.

The software, which could be used to target ads, would analyse images posted to Facebook or Instagram, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

An online system that predicts household features of a user — household size and demographic composition — provides improved and targeted content delivery to the user and the user’s household, according to the patent application.

To help determine whether people live in the same home, the software could look at how often people are tagged in pictures together and at the captions of the photos, it said.

“Without such knowledge of a user’s household features, most of content items that are sent to the user are poorly tailored to the user and are likely ignored,” said the patent application, which was filed last year and made public on Thursday.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook could also incorporate “past posts, status updates, friendships, messaging history, past tagging history” and web browsing history to put together a profile of a household or family, the report added.

The proposed online system seeks to apply one or more models trained using deep learning techniques to generate the predictions.

“For example, a trained image analysis model identifies each individual depicted in the photos of the user; a trained text analysis model derive household member relationship information from the user’s profile data and tags associated with the photos,” stated the application.

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Those profiles, in turn, could be made available to third parties that want to target “content” to users, it said.

Facebook told The Los Angeles Times that applying for the patent does not necessarily mean it will build or use the software.

Around 29 million Facebook accounts were hacked in September. (IANS)