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. Read the rest

Facebook is paying The Daily Telegraph to publish positive stories about Facebook

How should Facebook respond to the steady flow of news stories that reveal, again and again, how terrible it is? One way would be to stop being terrible. Instead, Facebook is keeping true to its "be terrible" motto by paying The Daily Telegraph to run a series of sponsored articles praising Facebook.

From Business Insider:

On March 13, the series ran a feature headlined "What action is Facebook taking to tackle terrorist content?", which discussed Facebook's work to "ensure terrorist content is identified and removed as swiftly as possible."

Two days later, a gunman opened fire at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people and livestreaming the entire attack on Facebook.

"The same week of the Christchurch attack, @Facebook told us in a sponsored puff piece in the @Telegraph that they have terrorist content under control," the European branch of policy organization Counter Extremism Project tweeted at the time. "This week, the picture looks very different."

The subjects of the sponsored stories in The Daily Telegraph, an influential, 150-year-old right-leaning daily newspaper, that ran throughout March included everything from artificial intelligence to female objectification and combatting scammers online— as well as issues that the company has been criticized for.

Image: The Telegraph Read the rest