Once again, Facebook blames an algorithm instead of taking responsibility

Facebook is notorious for absolving itself of responsibility for bad behavior by offering up an algorithm as a scapegoat (examples here, here, here, here). This time Brian Fishman, Facebook's policy director for counterterrorism, told Congress at a closed-door briefing that the New Zealand shooter video that Facebook streamed was not gruesome enough for its naughty, misbehaving algorithm to flag so please don't get mad at Facebook.

From The Daily Beast:

The members of Congress who gathered for a closed-door briefing had lots of questions for Brian Fishman, Facebook's policy director for counterterrorism. One of the biggest: Why didn't Facebook's counter-terror algorithms—which it rolled out nearly two years ago—take down the video as soon as it was up?

Fishman's answer, according to a committee staffer in the room: The video was not "particularly gruesome." A second source briefed on the meeting added that Fishman said there was "not enough gore" in the video for the algorithm to catch it.

Members pushed back against Fishman's defense. One member of Congress said the video was so violent, it looked like footage from Call of Duty.

Another, Missouri Democrat Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, told The Daily Beast that Fishman's answer "triggered something inside me."

"'You mean we have all this technology and we can't pick up gore?'" Cleaver said he told Fishman. "'How many heads must explode before they pick it up? Facebook didn't create darkness, but darkness does live in Facebook.'"

Image: Wax figure of the famous Mark Zuckerberg from Madame Tussauds, Siam Discovery, Bangkok. By Pumidol/Shutterstock