Facebook started testing an auto comment feature and promptly disabled it after users called the tool’s suggested comments on news coverage of a shooting “dystopian.” Facebook users recently spotted comment suggestions on multiple types of Facebook posts, but the idea of an algorithm suggesting a comment for a disaster didn’t sit well with users. According to BuzzFeed, Facebook disabled the test after uproar over the feature.
The test is for a tool that suggests comments, allowing users to respond in one click instead of actually typing out the comment. While shortcuts may be welcome in some parts of the app, Facebook users thought the auto-response on coverage of the hospital shooting in Chicago was insensitive and normalized shootings.
So I’m just noticing that Facebook has a thoughts and prayers autoresponder on our Chicago Hospital shooting livestream and I have thoughts pic.twitter.com/8LQULnbQty
— Steph Haberman (@StephLauren) November 19, 2018
According to BuzzFeed, the tool created suggestions like “this is so sad” and “so sorry” on a Live video covering the Chicago shooting. A tweet by one user capturing a screenshot of the feature generated criticism for the potential tool. One commenter described the feature as something that would be on an episode of Black Mirror, another called the screenshot “the most dystopian thing I’ve seen all day.”
While the content of the first spotted test of the feature is cringe-worthy, Facebook says the tool wasn’t implemented properly and disabled the test. Like Facebook fails of the past, the suggestions are probably a result of an algorithm, perhaps one that suggests comments based on the most popular types of responses. Facebook did not respond to Digital Trends’ request for a comment.
The auto-comment test was also run on other types of videos, according to BuzzFeed, including news and gaming. With the test, suggested comments appeared in bubbles below the post. Clicking on one sends that comment instantly, saving time on sending comments. The feature is similar to an autoresponder recently launched by Google, but the initial user response suggests the tool may be more out of place on a social network where users can also quickly respond with emoji reactions.
Facebook said the test has been disabled “for now,” but didn’t offer more details on if the feature would be refined and re-tested or when. As a test, the feature was only available to select users and it’s unclear when the test first began.
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