Facebook admits content moderation failures

Facebook has admitted to a number of content moderation failures uncovered by a reporter from the UK broadcaster Channel 4 who went undercover as a Facebook content moderator and found that the company was failing to delete abusive content. It has also – not for the first time – pledged to do better. 

Posing as an employee of CPL Resources, which works on content moderation on Facebook’s behalf, the reporter found instances of violence, child abuse and racism which were allowed to remain on Facebook for users to see and share.

The documentary, ‘Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network’, airs on Channel 4 at 9pm this evening, UK time.
One video of a man beating a small boy was still available to see on Facebook a week after the broadcaster brought the video to Facebook’s attention, and despite Richard Allan, Facebooks vice president of public policy, admitting to Channel 4 reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy that it should have been removed.

In a blog post published today, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, referring to the documentary, said: “It’s clear that some of what is in the program does not reflect Facebook’s policies or values and falls short of the high standards we expect.

“We take these mistakes incredibly seriously and are grateful to the journalists who brought them to our attention. We have been investigating exactly what happened so we can prevent these issues from happening again. For example, we immediately required all trainers in Dublin to do a re-training session – and are preparing to do the same globally. We also reviewed the policy questions and enforcement actions that the reporter raised and fixed the mistakes we found.”

The post goes on to reiterate how Facebook creates and enforces its policies, and how its content moderation teams operate, noting that Facebook is doubling the number of people working on its safety and security teams this year to 20,000, including over 7,500 content reviewers.

The post also includes links to a letter from Facebook to the documentary’s producer, Firecrest Films, responding to the issues it raises, and to the transcript of a Channel 4 interview with Richard Allen, Facebook’s vice president for global policy solutions. You can see the letter here and the interview transcript here.