Facebook increasingly using AI to scan for offensive content

facebook ai screen offensive computer male facing dark background
“Content moderation” might sound like a commonplace academic or editorial task, but the reality is far darker. Internationally, there are more than 100,000 people, many in the Philippines but also in the U.S., whose job each day is to scan online content to screen for obscene, hateful, threatening, abusive, or otherwise disgusting content, according to Wired. The toll this work takes on moderators can be likened to post-traumatic stress disorder, leaving emotional and psychological scars that can remain for life if untreated. That’s a grim reality seldom publicized in the rush to have everyone engaged online at all times.

Twitter, Facebook, Google, Netflix, YouTube, and other companies may not publicize content moderation issues, but that doesn’t mean the companies aren’t working hard to stop the further harm caused to those who screen visual and written content. The objective isn’t only to control the information that shows up on their sites, but also to build AI systems capable of taking over the most tawdry, harmful aspects of the work. Engineers at Facebook recently stated that AI systems are now flagging more offensive content than humans, according to TechCrunch.

Joaquin Candela, Facebook’s director of engineering for applied machine learning, spoke about the growing application of AI to many aspects of the social media giant’s business, including content moderation. “One thing that is interesting is that today we have more offensive photos being reported by AI algorithms than by people,” Candela said. “The higher we push that to 100 percent, the fewer offensive photos have actually been seen by a human.”

The systems aren’t perfect and mistakes happen. In a 2015 report in Wired, Twitter said when its AI system was tuned to recognize porn 99 percent of the time, 7 percent of those blocked images were innocent and filtered incorrectly, such as when photos of half-naked babies or nursing mothers are screened as offensive. The systems will have to learn, and the answer will be deep-learning, using computers to analyze how they, in turn, analyze massive amounts of data.

Another Facebook engineer spoke of how Facebook and other companies are sharing what they’re learning with AI to cut offensive content. “We share our research openly,” Hussein Mehanna, Facebook’s director of core machine learning, told TechCrunch. “We don’t see AI as our secret weapon just to compete with other companies.”

Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
News

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Social Media

Looking to officially rid your inbox of Facebook messages? Here's how

Deleting messages from Facebook Messenger is almost as easy as scrolling through your News Feed. Here, we show you how to delete an entire conversation or a single message, both of which take seconds.
Social Media

LinkedIn: Now you can express love, curiosity, and more with new Reactions

LinkedIn is following in the footsteps of Facebook (three years later!) with the rollout of new reactions that give users more ways to express themselves when responding to posts in their feed.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.