For many years, Facebook has been plagued by people who abuse the social media platform to advocate for violence, hate, and other forms of hate speech. During this period, many activists and other prominent people in all walks of society have lamented at how little Facebook is doing to curb the abuse happening on its platform.
It appears that this is slowly changing if you take into account Facebook's recently released Community Standards Enforcement Report for the period of October 2020 through December 2020. The report tracks the social media platform's progress on making Facebook and Instagram safe and inclusive.
“Our goal is to get better and more efficient at enforcing our Community Standards. We do this by increasing our use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), by prioritizing the content that could cause the most immediate, widespread, and real-world harm, and by coordinating and collaborating with outside experts.”, said Kojo Boakye, Director of Public Policy, Africa.
Enforcing content policies on Facebook and Instagram
Facebook's quarterly report shares metrics on how Facebook and Instagram are doing at preventing and taking action on content that goes against their published Community Standards.
According to the data and metrics released with the latest report for the fourth quarter of 2020, Facebook and Instagram are reporting to be making positive progress and providing more transparency and accountability around their content moderation processes.
During the 4th quarter of 2020, the following actions were taken on Facebook:
· 6.3 million pieces of bullying and harassment content, up from 3.5 million in Q3 due in part to updates in our technology to detect comments.
· 6.4 million pieces of organized hate content, up from 4 million in Q3.
· 26.9 million pieces of hate speech content, up from 22.1 million in Q3 due in part to updates in our technology in Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese.
· 2.5 million pieces of suicide and self-injury content, up from 1.3 million in Q3, due to increased reviewer capacity.
On Instagram during the same period, the following enforcement actions were taken:
· 5 million pieces of bullying and harassment content, up from 2.6 million in Q3 due in part to updates in our technology to detect comments.
· 308,000 pieces of organized hate content, up from 224,000 in Q3.
· 6.6 million pieces of hate speech content, up from 6.5 million in Q3.
· 3.4 million pieces of suicide and self-injury content, up from 1.3 million in Q3 due to increased reviewer capacity.
However, with that said, Facebook as a company has not always been this proactive and transparent regarding its content moderation processes and this has had some terrible consequences in different countries around the world.
Facebook's history fake news, hate speech, and censorship
Just last year during 2020, Facebook was embroiled in another contentious scandal around content moderation and censorship. This time, in Nigeria.
Barely a day following the #LekkiMassacre in Lagos on 20 October 2020 where protestors were attacked and some killed by armed soldiers, Facebook and Instagram went on to mark most #EndSARS related content as fake news. This, whether by Facebook's human fact-checkers or algorithms, effectively silenced crucial stories of what was happening in Nigeria.
In the process, this added to the Nigerian government's lies that no shooting took place and no protesters were killed by the army.
This incident further highlights the importance of Facebook not only reporting on actions taken, but also being transparent about their content moderation processes.
"Efforts are also being made to externally audit the metrics of these reports while making the data more interactive so people can understand it better. We will continue to improve our technology and enforcement efforts to keep harmful content off of our apps," concludes the statement by Facebook.
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