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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Facebook's content review team revealed: Firm hits back at criticism of its 'heroic' army of 7,500 workers paid to vet violent and troubling posts

Facebook has provided new details about the humans behind its complicated and oft-criticized content moderating system.
In a blog post, the social media giant described what kinds of people work on its content moderation team and how it trains reviewers to be able to follow Facebook's community standards consistently, while dispelling some rumors about the job.
The post comes as Facebook has faced backlash over how it polices content on its site, as well as the treatment of its human moderators. 
Facebook described what kinds of people work on its content moderation team and how it trains reviewers to follow its community standards consistently, while dispelling some rumors
Facebook described what kinds of people work on its content moderation team and how it trains reviewers to follow its community standards consistently, while dispelling some rumors
Facebook says it now has 7,500 content reviewers on hand around the world to parse through potentially objectionable content, a sharp increase from the 4,500 reviewers it had last May. 
The firm acknowledged that it has to hire folks that are capable of coping with repeated exposure to 'violent or troubling imagery.' 
Of those reviewers, some are full-time employees, while others are contractors or a part of companies that Facebook partners with. 
This allows Facebook to have content reviewers across the globe, so that they can handle posts in their native language, without having to translate them. 
Others posts, such as those that contain nudity, are routed to anyone in the world, as they don't pose a language barrier.
It also means that they have content reviewers available at all hours of the day, the firm added. 
Facebook says it now has 7,500 content reviewers on hand around the world to parse through potentially objectionable content. Pictured are content reviewers in Essen, Germany
Facebook says it now has 7,500 content reviewers on hand around the world to parse through potentially objectionable content. Pictured are content reviewers in Essen, Germany
'Content review at this size has never been done before,' Ellen Silver, vice president of operations at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. 
'After all, there has never been a platform where so many people communicate in so many different languages across so many different countries and cultures.
'We recognize the enormity of this challenge and the responsibility we have to get it right,' she added. 
Content reviewers come from various backgrounds and range from veterans to former public sector workers, Facebook noted. 
However, the firm stopped short of giving specific details about its reviewers for safety reasons, citing the shooting at YouTube's headquarters earlier this year. 
In April, vlogger Nasim Aghdam showed up at YouTube's Mountain View, California campus and opened fire on several employees before killing herself. Aghdam blamed the company for 'ruining' her life and censoring her content.  
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) has also faced renewed scrutiny after he said in a recent interview that Holocaust denier content should not be removed from the site
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) has also faced renewed scrutiny after he said in a recent interview that Holocaust denier content should not be removed from the site

WHAT ARE THE CRITICISMS ABOUT FACEBOOK'S CONTENT MODERATION SYSTEMS? 

Facebook is facing renewed criticism about how it regulates content on its platform. 
The tech giant has been secretive about the people behind its content moderation systems, noting that they also use artificial intelligence to review posts as they come in.
Earlier this month, Channel 4 conducted an undercover investigation of one of Facebook's major content moderation offices and found an array of disturbing material. 
They found that Facebook pays its moderators as little as  £18,000 a year to look at disturbing content on its site.
In another case, they found moderators treated pages from far-right groups differently than those from governments and news organizations. 
Moderators were also instructed to ignore users who looked under the age of 13, while posts of children being beaten were left up on the site. 
Facebook said it would update training material for its moderators, while assuring that the behaviors were not in line with its standards.  
..Content reviewers are subject to real danger that makes us wary of sharing too many details about where these teams are located or the identities of the people who review,' Silver continued. 
Facebook also explained that it trains reviewers continuously to make sure people are equipped with the right tools and to make sure they use consistent judgment.  
On a day-to-day basis, reviewers are assigned a queue of posts to look over, some of which requires them to just scan the post, while others require may more context in order to make a decision.  
The firm also addressed how its moderators are treated, saying they aren't given quotas, are provided with mental health resources and have full healthcare benefits.
'There’s a misconception that content reviewers work in dark basements, lit only by the glow of their computer screens,' Silver said.
'At least for Facebook, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Content review offices look a lot like other Facebook offices.'
On a daily basis, reviewers are assigned a queue of posts to look over, some of which requires them to just scan the post, while others require may more context in order to make a decision
On a daily basis, reviewers are assigned a queue of posts to look over, some of which requires them to just scan the post, while others require may more context in order to make a decision
Facebook admitted that, by penning the post, it was hoping to dispel some of the 'rumors' that exist about its content reviewers. 
A Channel 4 investigation earlier this month found that Facebook pays its moderators as little as £18,000 a year to look at disturbing material on its site. 
Undercover footage compiled by Channel 4 showed that moderators were instructed to leave footage of a child being beaten online, with a reviewer only marking the post as disturbing. 
A Facebook spokesperson said the post should have been removed, while adding that content reviewers do 'very difficult work.' 
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also faced renewed scrutiny after he said in a recent interview that Holocaust denier content should not be removed from the site. 
It prompted experts to say that Facebook 'may be in over its head' when it comes to regulating content on its platform.  

WHAT DO FACEBOOK'S GUIDELINES FOR CONTENT SAY?

Facebook has disclosed its rules and guidelines for deciding what its 2.2 billion users can post on the social network. 
The full guidelines can be read here. Below is a summary of what they say: 
1. Credible violence
Facebook says it considers the language, context and details in order to distinguish casual statements from content that constitutes a credible threat to public or personal safety.
2. Dangerous individuals and organisations
Facebook does not allow any organizations or individuals that are engaged in terrorist, organized hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking, organized violence or criminal activity.
3. Promoting or publicising crime
Facebook says it prohibit people from promoting or publicizing violent crime, theft, and/or fraud. It does not allow people to depict criminal activity or admit to crimes they or their associates have committed. 
4. Coordinating harm
The social network says people can draw attention to harmful activity that they may witness or experience as long as they do not advocate for or coordinate harm. 
5. Regulated goods
The site prohibits attempts topurchase, sell, or trade non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, and marijuana as well as firearms. 
6. Suicide and self-injury
The rules for 'credible violence' apply for suicide and self-injury. 
7. Child nudity and sexual exploitation of children
Facebook does not allow content that sexually exploits or endangers children. When it becomes aware of apparent child exploitation, we report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
8. Sexual exploitation of adults
The site removes images that depict incidents of sexual violence and intimate images shared without permission from the people pictured.
9. Bullying
Facebook removes content that purposefully targets private individuals with the intention of degrading or shaming them.
10. Harassment
Facebook's harassment policy applies to both public and private individuals.
It says that context and intent matter, and that the site will allow people to share and re-share posts if it is clear that something was shared in order to condemn or draw attention to harassment.  
11. Privacy breaches and image privacy rights
Users should not post personal or confidential information about others without first getting their consent, says Facebook. 
12. Hate speech
Facebook does not allow hate speech on Facebook because it says it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence. 
13. Graphic violence
Facebook will remove content that glorifies violence or celebrates the suffering or humiliation of others.
It will, however, allow graphic content (with some limitations) to help people raise awareness about issues.
14. Adult nudity and sexual activity
The site restricts the display of nudity or sexual activity.
It will also default to removing sexual imagery to prevent the sharing of non-consensual or underage content.
15. Cruel and insensitive
Facebook says it has higher expectations for content that defined as cruel and insensitive.
It defines this as content that targets victims of serious physical or emotional harm. 
16. Spam
Facebook is trying to prevent false advertising, fraud and security breaches.
It does not allow people to use misleading or inaccurate information to artificially collect likes, followers or shares. 
17. Misrepresentation
Facebook will require people to connect on Facebook using the name that they go by in everyday life.
18. False news
Facebook says that there is also a fine line between false news and satire or opinion. 
For these reasons, it won't remove false news from Facebook, but, instead, significantly reduce its distribution by showing it lower in News Feed.
19. Memorialisation
Facebook will memorialise accounts of people who have died by adding "Remembering" above the name on the person's profile. 
The site will not remove, update or change anything about the profile or the account. 
20. Intellectual property
Facebook users own all of the content and information that they post on Facebook, and have control over how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. 
21. User requests
Facebook say they will comply with:
  • User requests for removal of their own account
  • Requests for removal of a deceased user's account from a verified immediate family member or executor
  • Requests for removal of an incapacitated user's account from an authorised representative
22. Additional protection of minors
Facebook complies with:
  • User requests for removal of an underage account
  • Government requests for removal of child abuse imagery depicting, for example:
  • Beating by an adult
  • Strangling or suffocating by an adult
  • Legal guardian requests for removal of attacks on unintentionally famous minors

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