Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Facebook accused of violating decency over abusive content

Facebook accused of violating decency over abusive content

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in January that Facebook had to do better to stem the spread of hate speech and attempts to manipulate voters via the social network.

Facebook has recently committed to reducing fake news and improving privacy on its platform, which is welcome.

The Dispatches reporter attended training sessions and meetings in the Cpl Facebook resources offices in Dublin over a period of six weeks earlier this year.

A particularly shocking video featured in the programme showed an adult man punching and stamping on a screaming toddler.

One moderator is recorded saying: "If you start censoring too much then people stop using the platform. It's all about money at the end of the day".

Facebook told Dispatches the video should have been removed by moderators.

In the scenario, trainees were told the video should be "marked as disturbing" (MAD) but not taken down.

"It's the really extreme, really risky form of content that attracts the most highly engaged people on the platform".

As for how Facebook will react once the documentary airs in full remains to be seen, as well as how users' view of the company will be effected by what gets revealed.

The video of a grown man beating a small boy

"There is a minority who are prepared to abuse our systems and other internet platforms to share the most offensive kind of material", the former Liberal Democrat MP said. "I do think having extra reviewers on that when the debate is taking place absolutely makes sense and I think people would expect us to be careful and cautious before we take down their political speech". Another meme showed a little girl being held underwater, with the caption "when your daughter's first crush is a little negro boy".

The documentary also showed that Facebook moderators have turned blind eye to under-age accounts.

Facebook told Channel 4 that the image did, in fact, violate its hate speech policy, and that it was "reviewing what went wrong to prevent it happening again".

A comment aimed at Muslim immigrants that said "f**k off back to your own countries" was allowed to remain on the site.

"Based on the revelations from Channel 4 Dispatches documentary last evening, we have chose to suspend our partnership with Facebook until further notice", the group's chief executive Lorraine Higgins said.

In the same programme, Channel 4 interviews a representative of Facebook who profusely apologises for the mistakes made in its content team.

In the documentary, a moderator tells the Dispatches reporter that Britain First's pages were left up, even though they repeatedly broke Facebook's rules, because "they have a lot of followers so they're generating a lot of revenue for Facebook". "And that debate can be entirely legitimate", said Allan.

Facebook's head of public policy, Richard Allan, contested claims the company stood to benefit from allowing extreme, disturbing, and highly questionable content to stay on Facebook instead of having them removed.


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