Facebook: Improvement in AI for hate speech

Facebook flagged and removed 90 percent of hate speech. But how accurate are these numbers?

Facebook: Improvement in AI for hate speech

Facebook’s algorithms for detecting hate speech are hard at work as it flagged almost 90 percent of the hate speech it removed in the first quarter. The question that needs to be asked is how accurate are the numbers?

Facebook and hate speech

Facebook’s latest quarterly report says the company removed 9.6 million pieces of content it deemed hate speech in the first quarter of 2020 — up from 5.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. The total was a record, topping the 7 million removed in the third quarter of 2019.

Facebook software detected 88.8 percent of the 9.6 million posts removed in the first quarter before users reported them. This is an improvement in the number of posts removed for breaching its rules on hate speech. This is partly due to better detection by the automated hate speech sniffers that was developed by Facebooks artificial intelligence experts.

How accurate is this?

The accuracy of the system is questionable as Facebook can’t estimate the total volume of hate speech posted by its 1.7 billion daily users.

Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer does not provide clarity on the accuracy of the numbers but says, “Our language models have gotten bigger and more accurate and nuanced. They’re able to catch things that are less obvious.”

Schroepfer don’t specify how accurate the automated hate speech sniffer systems are, only that Facebook tests systems extensively before they are deployed, in part so that they do not incorrectly penalise innocent content.

Also, the system is unable to indicate how much hate speech slips through its algorithmic net. The company’s quarterly reports estimates the incidence of some types of content banned under Facebook’s rules, but not hate speech. The Facebook hate speech section says Facebook is still developing a global metric.

The missing numbers hide the true size of the social network’s hate speech problem. The 9.6 million posts removed for hate speech appear small in comparison to Facebook’s huge network of users.

The content flagged by Facebook’s algorithms is reviewed the same way as posts reported by users. The process determines whether to remove the content or add a warning, and it can involve human reviewers or software alone.

Facebook’s recent transparency drive now also includes a new panel of outside experts with the power to overturn the company’s moderation decisions.

Facebook technology is not perfect but the company needs to disclose the numbers if it is to succeed in its transparency efforts.

This content has been created as part of our freelancer relief programme. We are supporting journalists and freelance writers impacted by the economic slowdown caused by #lockdownlife.

If you are a freelancer looking to contribute to The South African, read more here.

Source : The South African More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

Court orders suspension of officers involved in death of Collins Khoza

Collins Khoza was allegedly killed by SANDF members in the Alexandra township in Gauteng last month during a lockdown operation.

Court orders suspension of officers involved in death of Collins Khoza

The High Court in Pretoria, on Friday 15 May, ruled that South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) members, implicated in the killing of Collins Khoza last month, be placed on cautionary suspension pending further investigation. 

Collins Khoza was allegedly beaten to death by SANDF members on 10 April during a lockdown operation. 


The family of Collins Khoza has come out victorious on Friday. 

Judge Hans Fabricius said the following while presenting the court order: 

“Pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings, place on precautionary suspension, on full pay, all members of the SANDF who were present at or adjacent to 3885 Moeketsi Street, Far East Bank, Alexandra, Johannesburg on 10 April”

“It is recorded that the sixth respondent shall immediately commence a process to place the members of JMPD who were present at or adjacent to 3885 Moeketsi Street, Far East Bank, Alexandra, Johannesburg on 10 April 2020 on suspension pending an investigation into charges of misconduct,” he said.  

The Judge said all members of the SANDF, SAPS and any MPD must adhere to the absolute prohibition on torture and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to apply only the minimum force that is reasonable to enforce the law. The way in which Khoza was allegedly killed should never have to take place.

The order included a freely accessible mechanism for civilians to report allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed by members of the SANDF, SAPS or any MPD for the duration of the national disaster. The judge said the mechanism should be widely publicised. 

“As far as costs are concerned, there is no reason why the applicants who were substantially successful should not be awarded the costs of this application. Their challenge is constitutionally justified and bonafide,” he added. 

The South African reached out to SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini. He said a statement is being prepared in response to the court order. He was not able to provide comment at the time of publishing.


The court order is a win for Khoza and his family, however, it will not bring him back. 

According to Newzroom Afrika, Collins was allegedly beaten for being in possession of a bottle of beer. 

According to the man’s wife, Nomsa Montshe, soldiers raided their home and after finding a single beer in the fridge, dragged him out into the street.

Montshe said that two SANDF soldiers entered her home while Khoza was eating at the house next door with her sister and brother-in-law. She said her husband and brother-in-law were questioned about possession of alcohol and both houses were searched.

Montshe alleges that the soldiers opened the beer and then proceeded to pour its contents onto the two men before assaulting them.

Source : The South African More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.