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Facebook ‘Too slow’ in Fighting Hate Speech in Myanmar

Facebook said it is working with a network of independent organisations to identify hate posts

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Facebook
Facebook faces $1.63 bn in EU fine over fresh data breach. VOA

The ethnic violence in Myanmar is horrific and we have been “too slow” to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech on our platform, Facebook acknowledged on Thursday.

The admission came after a Reuters investigation on Wednesday revealed that Facebook has struggled to address hate posts about the minority Rohingya, the social media giant said the rate at which bad content is reported in Burmese, whether it’s hate speech or misinformation, is low.

“This is due to challenges with our reporting tools, technical issues with font display and a lack of familiarity with our policies. We’re investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence that can proactively flag posts that break our rules,” Sara Su, Product Manager at Facebook, said in a statement.

According to Facebook, in the second quarter of 2018, it proactively identified about 52 per cent of the content it removed for hate speech in Myanmar.

“This is up from 13 per cent in the last quarter of 2017, and is the result of the investments we’ve made both in detection technology and people, the combination of which help find potentially violating content and accounts and flag them for review,” said Facebook.

Facebook said it proactively identified posts as recently as last week that indicated a threat of credible violence in Myanmar.

“We removed the posts and flagged them to civil society groups to ensure that they were aware of potential violence,” said the blog post.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

In May, a coalition of activists from eight countries, including India and Myanmar, called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation.

The coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook’s role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.

Besides India and Myanmar, the other countries that the activists represented were Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, Syria and Ethiopia.

Facebook said that as of June, it had over 60 Myanmar language experts reviewing content and will have at least 100 by the end of this year.

“But it’s not enough to add more reviewers because we can’t rely on reports alone to catch bad content. Engineers across the company are building AI tools that help us identify abusive posts,” said the social media giant.

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Not only Myanmar, activists in Sri Lanka have argued that the lack of local moderators — specifically moderators fluent in the Sinhalese language spoken by the country’s Buddhist majority — had allowed hate speech run wild on the platform.

Facebook said it is working with a network of independent organisations to identify hate posts.

“We are initially focusing our work on countries where false news has had life or death consequences. These include Sri Lanka, India, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic as well as Myanmar,” said the company. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook To Invest Over $300 mn to Support Local News

"This year, we'll commit over $20 million to continue our local 'Accelerator' programme in the US and to expand the model globally, including in Europe," said Brown

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Facebook
Facebook commits $300 mn to support local news. Pixabay

Facebook has announced to invest over $300 million over the next three years to support local news organisations.

In a blog post, Campbell Brown, Vice President, Global News Partnerships, said that Facebook wants to support local journalists and newsrooms with their news gathering needs in the immediate future and help these organisations build sustainable business models, through both its product and partnership work.

“We heard one consistent answer: people want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support. That’s why today we’re announcing an expanded effort around local news in the years ahead,” Brown said late on Tuesday.

In 2018, Google also committed $300 million for over three years to strengthen quality journalism, support sustainable business models and empower newsrooms through technological innovation.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

It was also committing to spend $300 million over the next three years on its various journalism-related projects.

According to Facebook, it would invest $300 million in news programmes, partnerships and content.

Among the components is a Pulitzer Centre — a $5 million endowment gift to launch “Bringing Stories Home”, a gift that will provide local newsrooms across the US with reporting grants to foster coverage on topics that affect local communities.

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“Report for America” is a $2 million investment in the initiative to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across America over the next five years.

“This year, we’ll commit over $20 million to continue our local ‘Accelerator’ programme in the US and to expand the model globally, including in Europe,” said Brown. (IANS)