In a blog post this afternoon, Facebook detailed the progress it’s made in combatting terrorists, violent extremist groups, and hate organizations on both Facebook and Instagram. The bulk of its successes were enabled by automated techniques, according to the Menlo Park tech giant, but also by a 350-person counterterrorism team whose scope has expanded to prevent those proclaiming or engaging in violence from inflicting real-world harm.
Facebook claims its machine learning algorithms, which identify content matching copies of known bad material and which assess posts to determine whether they’re likely to violate policies, helped it to detect “a wide range” of terrorist organizations based on their behavior alone. The company initially targeted global groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, leading to the removal of more than 26 million pieces of content in the last two years (99% of which was proactively identified). But starting around mid-2018, it broadened the use of AI and human moderation to “to a wider range” of dangerous organizations, resulting in the banning of 200 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and the removal of content praising or supporting those organizations.
Facebook says that in the future, it’ll work with government and law enforcement officials in the U.S. and U.K. to train its computer vision algorithms on footage from firearms training programs, with the goal of improving their sensitivity to real-world, first-person footage of violent events like the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in March.
Separately, Facebook says it’s expanded a program to connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy on Facebook to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups, like Life After Hate in the U.S. In Australia and Indonesia, it’s partnered with Moonshot CVE to measure the impact of those efforts, and it’s begun directing searchers in Australia and New Zealand to EXIT Australia and ruangobrol.id, respectively.
Lastly, Facebook says it’s developed a definition of “terrorist organizations” to guide its decision-making on enforcing against these organizations, which it says “more clearly” delineates that attempts at violence (particularly thsoe directed toward civilians) with the intent to coerce and intimidate. And it says it’s modified the structure of its counterterrorism team to combat the rise in white supremacist violence and terrorists not be clearly tied to specific terrorist organizations.