"It's an attempt to open up about how Facebook is doing at removing bad content from our site, so you can be the judge", VP Alex Schultz wrote in a blog post. The post said Facebook found nearly all of that content before anyone had reported it, and that removing fake accounts is the key to combating that type of content. "This is especially true where we've been able to build artificial intelligence technology that automatically identifies content that might violate our standards". Facebook removed 2.5 million pieces of hate speech in Q1 2018, of which just 38% was flagged by automated systems.
Facebook has been in hot water following allegations of data privacy violations by Cambridge Analytica, an election consultancy that improperly harvested information from millions of Facebook users for the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump's USA presidency bid.
The inappropriate content includes vilification, graphic violence, adult nudity and sexual activity, terrorist propaganda, spam and fake accounts.
For a sense of scale, between 22 and 27 of every 10,000 pieces of content contained graphic violence in the first quarter of 2018, up from between 16 and 19 in the previous quarter.
Most of the content was found and flagged before users had a chance to spot it and alert the platform. The company didn't provide a number of views, but said it was "extremely low".
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One hypothesis for the increase, Schultz said, is that "in [the most recent quarter], some bad stuff happened in Syria".
The social network estimates that it found and flagged 85% of that content prior to users seeing and reporting it - a higher level than previously due to technological advances.
In total the social network took action on 3.4m posts or parts of posts that contained such content.
But hate speech is a problem for Facebook today, as the company's struggle to stem the flow of fake news and content meant to encourage violence against Muslims in Myanmar has shown.
"It may take a human to understand and accurately interpret nuances like. self-referential comments or sarcasm", the report said, noting that Facebook aims to "protect and respect both expression and personal safety".
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Hate speech: In Q1, the company took action on 2.5 million pieces of such content, up about 56% from 1.6 million during Q4.
The report and the methods it details are Facebook's first step toward sharing how they plan to safeguard the news feed in the future. A Bloomberg report last week showed that while Facebook says it's become effective at taking down terrorist content from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, recruitment posts for other US -designated terrorist groups are found easily on the site.
Spam: Facebook says it took action on 837 million pieces of spam content in Q1, up 15% from 727 million in Q4.
While AI is getting more effective at flagging content, Facebook's human reviewers still have to finish the job.
Facebook also said it removed 583 million fake accounts in the same period, or the equivalent of 3 to 4 percent of its monthly users. And more generally, as I explained last week, technology needs large amounts of training data to recognise meaningful patterns of behavior, which we often lack in less widely used languages or for cases that are not often reported.
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